OWINGS MILLS, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Anthony Averett said he sat down Tuesday night and thought about the toll taken on the team’s defensive backs.

Of the four projected starters at cornerback and safety, only Chuck Clark remains. The team’s No. 1 cornerback, Marlon Humphrey, suffered a season-ending torn pectoral muscle during last Sunday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Free safety DeShon Elliott went down in November with a torn pectoral and torn bicep. And cornerback Marcus Peters didn’t get to a play a down in 2021 after injuring his knee in the preseason.

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“But we’ve just got to continue to move forward,” Averett said at a press conference Wednesday. “Nobody cares. Nobody thought we were going to be in this position, No. 1 in the AFC North, anyway. So we’ve just got to continue to move forward.”

Prior to 2021, the former fourth-round pick out of Alabama had started in seven games over his first three seasons. This year, with Peters out before play even began, he’s started in all 11 and intercepted the first two passes of his career.

With Humphrey now gone, Averett finds himself as the top cover man for the 8-4 Ravens.

“I’m ready for it. I’m getting prepared for it,” he said. “I’ve been here, I’m confident. My coaches, they’re definitely prepared for it. They prepare us for it.”

Going forward, the remaining defensive backs will have to adapt and take on any role that’s asked of them, Averett said. Someone like rookie Brandon Stephens, who’s been filling in for Elliott, could be lined up as a nickelback or a corner.

“All replaceable parts, that’s pretty much how we’re going to do it from now on,” he said.

Averett acknowledged that communication will have to improve in the defensive backfield with so many fresh faces.

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As an example, he took the blame for Diontae Johnson’s first touchdown in Sunday’s game, when there was an apparent mix-up in assignments in the 4th quarter and the Steelers receiver came wide open across the middle of the field for an easy score. Averett said he didn’t get the message the coverage had changed.

“Pretty much everybody was playing one thing, except me,” he said, later adding “That was all me on that.”

 

On the most recent Ravens depth chart, veteran Jimmy Smith is listed behind Averett at cornerback. Tavon Young is listed behind Humphrey, though he typically covers slot receivers. Behind him is Chris Westry, a second-year corner who played with the Dallas Cowboys in his rookie season. The Ravens on Wednesday activated corner Kevon Seymour from the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Averett said he’s excited for the physically imposing Westry, who’s listed at 6-foot-4, to get an opportunity.

“He gets his hands on, you’re definitely at his mercy. He definitely can play,” he said.

Even so, with the Ravens having to reach so far down their depth chart, opposing teams are likely going to test the depleted secondary in the remaining five games. But Averett doesn’t expect any major changes to the defense’s approach.

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“We know what’s coming, so we’re definitely going to be prepared for it,” he said.

Brandon Weigel