Through the Ravens’ first two games of the preseason, rookie cornerback Anthony Averett had flown under the radar without much fanfare. That changed with a three-play stretch in the third quarter of Monday’s 20-19 win at the Indianapolis Colts.
The first of the Ravens’ three 2018 fourth-round draft picks, Averett had a hand in the defense’s ability to keep Indianapolis out of the end zone after four consecutive attempts from the 3- or 2-yard line. Averett said he took some comfort in making those contributions for the team.
“It was definitely a confidence booster,” he said Thursday. “Not saying that I didn’t have any confidence, but definitely doing that in an NFL game, that was my first time that I made some big plays out there for my team. It just happened to be three plays in a row. So it’s just a blessing to be out there with the team.”
On first down-and-goal, rookie running back Jordan Wilkins took a handoff from quarterback Jacoby Brissett and bounced out off the left end. But he was momentarily slowed by Averett, and that allowed outside linebacker Tyus Bowser to stop Wilkins for a 1-yard loss.
On second-and-goal, Brissett tried to hit rookie wide receiver Reece Fountain on a quick slant from the left, but Averett wrestled the ball out of Fountain’s hands for an incompletion. And on third-and-goal, the 5-foot-11, 178-pound Averett impeded 6-6, 248-pound tight end Ross Travis enough to prevent Brissett from connecting with him on a fade route to the back left corner of the end zone.
“The one fade to the tight end who was like 6-6, I knew he was going to run a fade,” Averett said. “You could tell since I’m only about 6 foot. So I knew that was coming. The one before that, I just played my keys. I played outside and just played tight coverage in the red zone and made the play.”
Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Averett “made great strides” in the game against the Colts.
“He made some big plays down there, and I was really proud of that,” he said. “That’s just nothing but positive for a rookie to be in those situations. That’s why I keep referring to everybody about how I love the preseason games because the confidence builds when they make plays like that. He made great strides with that.”
Part of a crowded group of cornerbacks, Averett said he is uncertain if he has secured a spot on the active roster. Instead, his aim is to continue to improve.
“I feel like my goal is to get better every game,” he said. “I feel like with every game, I’m getting more comfortable. I’m seeing a lot more of the game slowing down, and that’s helping me, too. So the more games I play, I feel like I get better.”