About the only thing that went wrong in the Ravens’ season-opening blowout of the Miami Dolphins happened to Jimmy Smith.
“Twenty-something people out there, and it had to be me, I guess,” the veteran cornerback, who’s missed at least four games in seven of his nine NFL seasons, said Thursday. “Just kind of the story of my career a little bit.”
Midway through the first quarter Sept. 8, inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor dived for a tackle. As Onwuasor wrapped up Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage, his momentum carried him into Smith, whose right knee bent awkwardly. The 31-year-old crumbled to the ground and didn’t return.
Tests revealed a Grade 2 sprain, which has sidelined him for over a month. Smith, speaking to reporters for the first time since the injury, acknowledged that he feared the worst.
“I initially thought, like, it was gone,” he said. “Just how wobbly and loose it felt. That kind of just scared me for my career, you know? But I thank God it was just a sprain.”
As the Ravens prepare to face star quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks’ passing attack — the NFL’s most efficient, according to Football Outsiders — they could use a cornerback like Smith, who returned to practice Wednesday in a brace.
Smith said he’s “trying to be careful” with the knee injury, his first. He feels “really good” and will test his mobility Sunday before kickoff, but the Ravens’ Week 8 bye means Smith can afford to be a little more cautious than he’d otherwise be. (The Ravens declined to create a roster spot by placing Smith on injured reserve, but if he returns in Week 9, he’ll have missed eight weeks, the same stretch he could’ve missed with an IR designation.)
Smith will return to a secondary radically different from the one he started the season with. Starting safety Tony Jefferson and backup DeShon Elliott are likely lost for the season with knee injuries. Maurice Canady has gone from the practice squad to a fixture at cornerback. And on Tuesday, the Ravens acquired Los Angeles Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, a two-time All-Pro, who’s expected to play Sunday.
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“Everything happens for a reason,” Smith said, referring to his knee injury. “You know, who knows if we would’ve gotten Marcus Peters if all that didn’t happen? So maybe we win the Super Bowl because of all this.”