Webb and company ready to return kicks if asked

November 18, 2011|By Matt Vensel

As special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg announced at the podium that the Ravens would be working Thursday to find a kickoff returner to replace David Reed, the leading candidates were in the locker room playing coy about how the Ravens will proceed there going forward.

“I can’t tell you any secrets,” rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith said, grinning slightly.

Starting cornerback and punt returner Lardarius Webb and rookie receiver LaQuan Williams are listed as the primary and secondary options, respectively, on the team’s depth chart. Smith and cornerback Chris Carr returned kickoffs after Reed fumbled twice in the 22-17 loss to Seattle.

“I’ve fumbled the ball before. It’s frustrating because you know the kind of impact it can have,” said Smith, who scored three kickoff return touchdowns in his Maryland career. “We all know how he is feeling because we have all made mistakes in this game, so we want to support him.”

But Smith and his fellow returners are also ready to contribute if the coaching staff comes calling.

“If I get a chance, I feel like I can come through and make some plays,” Williams said.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday that it was his preference to have Webb, a third-year player, return kickoffs. Webb was the team’s primary kickoff returner in 2009 and scored on a kickoff return before suffering a season-ending knee injury. But Harbaugh also said that he does not want to put too much on the plate of Webb, who has been an integral part of the defense.

Webb, who was evasive when asked if more was added to his plate, said he wants to return kicks.

“It would be nice if I did. It would be really nice if I did,” he said. “I miss returning kicks.”

He did, however, stick up for Reed, whom he called “a great returner.”

“David Reed just had an unfortunate day, dropped a couple of balls. It happens,” Webb said. “People just made a big deal because he did it twice. He’ll come back strong. He’ll be back.”

Despite the special teams being not-so-special this season, Harbaugh believes that aspect of the team is improving, even if it didn’t show against the Seahawks. The candidates to replace Reed, who only made a brief cameo in the locker room Thursday, agreed with Harbaugh’s assessment.

“We just need to keep executing and working hard and we’re going to pop one,” Williams said.

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