With Cornerback Glut, It's Safety First For Martin

Ravens notebook

July 30, 2009|By Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley | Edward Lee and Jamison Hensley,edward.lee@baltsun.com

When Derrick Martin stepped in front of a pass from John Beck at a recent practice, the play was notable because Martin wasn't playing in his usual position.

A cornerback since the Ravens drafted him in 2006, Martin is making the switch to safety - a position he hasn't played since his freshman year at Wyoming.

"It's just getting it back into my head, and it's different when you put the pads on and you're in that box and you've got to come down and make that tackle," Martin conceded. "But after I make that first hit, I'm going to be all right, I think."

Martin's decision was prompted by the presence of nine cornerbacks on the team's roster - three of whom got significant playing time last season (Fabian Washington, Samari Rolle and Frank Walker) and three who were signed as free agents (Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr) or drafted (Lardarius Webb).

Defensive backs coach Mark Carrier said Martin's transition has been aided by his openness to the position change and his fondness for talking, but there is still a lot to learn.

"The big part is understanding the idiosyncrasies that we have and that guys have to play," Carrier said.

"And I as a coach have to understand his strengths and weaknesses and help apply them to how we play and what we do with our safeties. We have a system that we stand by, but every guy has find a place in our system, and that's what Derrick is kind of doing."

Martin, who said he is fully recovered from a torn labrum in his right shoulder that forced him onto the injured-reserve list after six games last season, said he hasn't given up the idea of playing cornerback. But he's hoping his versatility will make an impression with the coaching staff.

"I know safety, corner, nickel, dime," Martin said.

"I've learned all the positions and everything. They could probably put me wherever, and I could do it pretty well."

Mason on did-not-report list

The Ravens placed Derrick Mason on the reserve-did-not-report list Wednesday. That means Mason will not count against the team's 80-man roster limit.

The veteran wide receiver is still deciding whether he will stay retired. He was not expected to report to the team Wednesday.

If Mason decides to return, the Ravens can activate him. The team would then have to cut a player to make room for Mason.

Injury update

Tight end L.J. Smith did not practice Wednesday after suffering what he called a "minor muscle" problem in his hamstring Tuesday afternoon.

"It's just a minor thing," Smith said. "Nothing serious like my groin was [during organized team activities]. In fact, my groin felt great. No problems with the groin. But I was out there by myself yesterday running routes in the heat, so I think it's just a little strain."

In addition to Smith, running back Willis McGahee (arthroscopic knee surgery) did not practice, although he did run 100-yard sprints on an adjacent practice field.

The team removed defensive tackle Lamar Divens and rookie tight end Davon Drew from the physically-unable-to-perform list, and rookie linebacker Jason Phillips (left knee) appears close to coming off the PUP list as well.

The short of it

Wide receiver Jayson Foster, who is listed at 5 feet 7, is one inch shorter than running back Ray Rice, making Foster the shortest player on the club's roster. It's an obstacle Foster is quite familiar with.

"Definitely being a shorter receiver is a little bit of a disadvantage, but you've also got to use your speed and quickness to get open," said Foster, a second-year player who has spent time with the Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers and was signed by the Ravens on Tuesday. "So overall, you can't worry about being tall or stuff you can't control. You've just got to worry about doing the best you can and catching the ball."

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