When the New England Patriots took the field Sunday night for their first offensive series, Brandon Carr was starting, as he has for 184 straight games. The only difference was that Carr was next to the Ravens’ Earl Thomas III — at safety.
Carr played there extensively in the Ravens’ 37-20 win at M&T Bank Stadium, often sharing the field with Thomas and safety Chuck Clark, who typically lines up closer to the line of scrimmage. After playing over 90% of the Ravens’ defensive snaps in every game since Week 2, and almost exclusively at cornerback, Carr had a reduced workload Sunday (47 defensive snaps, or 70.1% overall).
Defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt said last month that after over a decade in the NFL, “there’s not too much that he hasn’t seen and hasn’t been able to handle.”
“In this league, knowledge is power, and he has a lot of knowledge and experience of routes, route trees,” defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said Thursday of Carr. “When he’s watching tape and studying tape of how they’re not only going to attack the corner position but how they attack the safeties as well, it was the first time that he was back there live and in action. It was fun to watch. But he’s such a great teammate and so selfless in his approach.”
With Jimmy Smith’s return from a knee sprain, Marcus Peters’ arrival and Marlon Humphrey’s consistent play, the Ravens have flexibility at cornerback. The Cincinnati Bengals have one of the highest rates of three-wide receiver personnel groupings in the NFL this season (84%), according to Sharp Football Stats, so Carr could see more time at cornerback Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
>> Special teams coach Chris Horton said he has “a lot of confidence” in returner Cyrus Jones (Gilman), who muffed a punt Sunday. The Patriots recovered the fumble and scored a touchdown with the short field.
“I know what he’s capable of,” Horton said. "The same thing with [kickoff returner] Justice [Hill] early on in the year — I told you, I’m not losing confidence in our guys because I know and understand the importance of what happens in games sometimes. When you don’t follow through with your technique on every play, those things happen. So I don’t lose confidence in any of those guys because those guys are good players, and they’re here for a reason.”
>> Horton said he’s watched the Bengals’ kickoff return for a touchdown from Week 6 “probably 1,000 times already.” Brandon Wilson’s 92-yard opening return was the first score the Ravens had allowed since Oct. 2, 2011.
>> Martindale said that that with the Bengals, “you’re not facing [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick and [quarterback Tom] Brady. But yet, this team ... it’s not an 0-8 offense. It really isn’t, with the skill set and the skills that they have. So it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
>> Asked about the gold necklace that he flashed during a team picture after the Ravens’ win Sunday, Martindale joked: “You didn’t know I had that kind of swag, did you?”