Tavon Young’s 12-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the Ravens’ 26-16 victory at the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday marked the cornerback’s first touchdown of his NFL career. It was also his first fumble return for a touchdown since his junior year at Temple in 2014, but he deferred credit to inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor, whose strip-sack of quarterback Matt Ryan led to Young’s score.
“It was cool,” he said. “Shout-out to ‘Peanut’ [Onwuasor]. I didn’t really do anything. I just returned it. But he’s the one that caused it, and I just finished the play.”
Young has made several key plays in his first year since returning from a torn ACL that wiped out his entire 2017 season. He ranks second only to Brandon Carr among the defense’s cornerbacks in tackles with 31, has broken up four passes and intercepted one pass in 479 snaps, which ranks ninth on the unit.
Free safety Eric Weddle said Young, who has battled ankle and groin injuries this season, has fortified the secondary.
“He’s one of our best cover guys and one of our best football players when you look at our team and look at what he can do,” Weddle said. “He can play special teams and obviously gives us a dynamic player at nickel. He plays the run, is physical, and can run with those slot guys. It’s nice to get him back. Obviously, Brandon came in over the last couple of weeks at nickel and did a great job, but it’s nice to have another guy in there that can run around and cover guys like we need, especially going against a passing offense like this.”
But Young is an unforgiving critic, especially of himself.
“I’m playing decent, but I could turn it up more,” he said.
No Raven has more than one interception thus far, but Young said he should have more.
“I want the ball more,” he said. “You’ve got to be greedy for the ball. I’ve only got one interception. So I feel like we’ve got to get more turnovers, and it starts with the cornerbacks and the secondary.”
Special teams showdown
The Ravens are used to holding advantages over their opponents on special teams, an area where they’ve shined during their three-game winning streak.
That won’t necessarily be the case against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. The Chiefs are known for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and their big-play offense, but their quiet strength lies on special teams.
“I don’t think it’s been underappreciated by those people who pay attention to special teams,” Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said. “The thing that’s remarkable is they’re good at everything.”
Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has made 19 of 20 field-goal attempts, and punter Dustin Colquitt ranks fourth in the league with a 41.9-yard net average. Tremon Smith averages 27.9 yards on kick returns.
Most dangerous of all is punt returner Tyreek Hill, who hit the Los Angeles Chargers with a 91-yard touchdown earlier in the season. Will the Ravens sacrifice punt distance to kick away from Hill?
“He’s one of those guys that … sometimes, they don’t even need to block for him, though Kansas City does,” Rosburg said. “But he can make plays on his own. So we have to have our best game on our punt team. There’s no question about it.”
Carr nominated for Payton Award
In recognition of Carr’s work on child literacy, breast cancer awareness and social justice, the Ravens nominated the veteran cornerback for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The Dallas Cowboys also nominated Carr for the award, the NFL’s highest off-field honor, in 2015.
His Carr Cares Foundation pairs high school mentors with struggling readers in second and third grade. He spent an October evening at M&T Bank Stadium with breast-cancer patients and survivors (Carr’s mother died from the disease in 2014). And he’ll host 60 Baltimore children at a Holiday Helpers event where they’ll be given $200 gift certificates to shop for themselves and their families at a local Target.
“Man, I’m trying to keep myself composed,” Carr said at the announcement Thursday. “Honestly, I just feel like I’m blessed to be able to play this game, have this platform, but also, just the opportunity to build or do something that I just love to do, and that’s just be in the community.”
» Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (groin) was absent from practice for a second straight day Thursday, raising questions about his availability for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Humphrey would be badly missed against a high-scoring offense that features Hill and Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce.
» Safety Tony Jefferson also missed practice with an ankle injury that kept him out against the Falcons. Guard Alex Lewis was absent for a second straight day with a shoulder injury.
» Young (groin) and defensive back Anthony Levine Sr. (ankle) returned to practice after missing Wednesday.
» Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale noted his son called him while he was traveling home from Atlanta to point out that Terrell Suggs was one sack away from passing former New York Giants great Lawrence Taylor on the all-time list.
“I said, ‘Wow!’ ” Martindale said. “You don’t think about that because we see ‘Sizz’ all the time every day.”