The Ravens avoided another major hit to their secondary, as cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a Grade 2 knee sprain in the team’s 59-10 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh announced Monday.
“It’ll be multiple weeks. He has a Grade 2 sprain in there, so it’s not going to be a season-ender by any stretch,” Harbaugh said. “How many weeks it is? That depends on how fast it heals, so we’ll see going forward.”
Smith suffered the injury early in the first quarter when inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor crashed into his right knee while attempting a tackle.
The 31-year-old headed to the locker room and returned in street clothes to watch the remainder of the game.
When asked about the likelihood of the team putting Smith on IR with a designation to return, Harbaugh said: “It’s a possibility. I don’t think it’s a probability right now, but I haven’t spoken with [Ravens general manager] Eric [DeCosta] or [Ravens executive vice president] Ozzie [Newsome] about that at this time, so we’ll have to see.”
If given that designation, Smith wouldn’t be eligible to return to practice for six weeks and play in a game for eight weeks.
Second-year cornerback Anthony Averett filled in on the outside for Smith, playing 90% of the defensive snaps in the team’s blowout victory. The Dolphins targeted Averett, who tripped in coverage and allowed Miami’s sole touchdown of the game, but Harbaugh was pleased with his performance.
“He did well. He got his legs under him," Harbaugh said of Averett, who recorded five tackles and one pass breakup. “He had been playing a lot of special teams, it was hot. I think once he got his sea legs, he really played well. Tight coverage, did a good job and I was happy with him.”
The NFL network first reported Smith suffered an MCL sprain.
Jackson’s rushing workload
Out of all the record-breaking numbers the Ravens recorded during Sunday’s win, one of the more surprising was quarterback Lamar Jackson’s rushing attempts: three.
Jackson’s career-low for rushes after taking over as the team’s starter last season was 11, but Harbaugh said his rushing total was a non-issue.
“It’s not a hot topic with me,” Harbaugh said. "I mean, I get it. It’s a hot topic. But just because it’s a hot topic out there doesn’t mean it has to be a hot topic in here. And it’s not, nobody cares in here.
“If they allow Lamar to run, he’s going to run. [The Dolphins] didn’t. They were taking it away, for sure, it was part of their plan not to allow him to run. If people decide that that’s going to be the way it’s going to go, he’s not going to run. That’s the way the offense is organized. We’re not worried about it at all.”
Fake punt revisited
After fielding questions postgame about his decision to run a fake punt up 35-3 in the second quarter, Harbaugh added more context to the decision.
“We got a fake punt on us, run of 35-plus [yards], and we had two touchdowns, passing touchdowns, scored against us in the last six minutes of a blowout,” Harbaugh said. “That’s the NFL for one thing. But the point is, and I know that the Dolphins understand this ... the objective is to keep your offense on the field and to keep your defense off the field.”
The fake punt, a direct snap to upback Anthony Levine Sr., went for 60 yards and set up the team’s sixth touchdown, marking a franchise record for points in a half (42).
In 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading the Ravens 44-0 in London, ran a successful fake punt with 23 seconds left in the third quarter en route to a 44-7 victory.
Harbaugh said once the team arrived at fourth-and-1 on its own 30, the fake punt was something they considered. He also shrugged off any notion that the team wasted a surprise tactic in the first week of the season.
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“That’s a pretty standard play,” Harbaugh said. “The dive play, everybody runs it, so everybody knows we have it.”