December 4, 2011
4. It's a little scary to have your best cornerback returning punts, but when you see the way Lardarius Webb can affect the game when he gets the ball in his hands, you understand why the Ravens are willing to take that risk.
It's not hard to figure out why Lardarius Webb has become a fan favorite this year. Not only is he a very personable, warm person who wants to connect with fans, he's an electric player.
I didn't know this until I was talking to him last week, but Webb was such a good athlete in college, when he was at Nicholls State, the Colonels coaching staff played him regularly on offense in addition to defense because he was so much better than everyone else. He even played quarterback for stretch. He's the only player in NCAA history to be named Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week for his conference in a single year.
The past few weeks, it really felt like if Webb could just catch the ball with a little bit of space between himself and the guys on the coverage team, he was going to break one. And that's exactly what happened against the Browns, a touchdown return that essentially put the game away. It's easy to forget he did almost the exact same thing in the playoffs against the Steelers, only to have his return called back on a phantom holding penalty called on Marcus Smith. He's a dangerous player when he gets the ball in space.
I think it's obvious Webb is playing corner at a Pro Bowl-caliber level right now, but I'd be surprised if he was actually voted to appear in the Pro Bowl. It's just too hard to earn that kind of recognition your first year as a full-time starter, and I would suspect Webb might be the victim of some Ravens fatigue with the voters. You know Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are virtual locks to be selected. What voter would have the conviction to also vote for a fifth player on the Ravens defense?
The one way Webb might make it happen, however, is by forcing people to pay more attention by scoring touchdowns, either on special teams or defense.