It should be a rock 'em sock 'em drag-out battle between the Ravens and the Tennessee Titans in Nashville this weekend... it always is.
Remember the good old days, when the Titans (and not the Steelers) were the Ravens' biggest AFC rival? That all changed with realignment of the divisions some years ago... and Cary Williams, the 3rd year cornerback whom the Ravens picked up this season after he spent his first two years with the Titans, is probably too young to remember.
Cary Williams, 6-1, 190, 4.5 speed, age 26, 3rd year out of Washburn, gets the difficult assignment of trying to cover his old teammate Kenny Britt, who is arguably the best and most dangerous receiver in the NFL...
Britt is one of those rare talents who combines size and speed (6-3, 215, 4.4 in the '40)... “He’s a big guy who tries to use his size, so you’ve got to nullify that,” said cornerback Domonique Foxworth. “He can run, but that’s not something that’s an issue for our guys. But you have to take care of his size. “We got Cary’s big [body]. I wish Jimmy (Smith) was healthy, but we’ve got big Cary."
The Titans’ weapon broke out with a huge game last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Britt turned five catches into two touchdowns and 136 receiving yards. One of them was a fluke underhand pass from quarterback Matt Hasselbeck into a broken-play, 80-yard touchdown run. “He’s very explosive. He’s a huge concern,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said of Britt. “He’s averaging 18.1 yards per catch for his career. He had an 80-yarder on Sunday that was a broken play. So, he can take it the distance pretty much any play.”
Williams thinks he can be physical enough to knock Britt out of his rhythm with Hasselbeck, who only signed this offseason after a stellar career with the Seattle Seahawks. “I definitely want to use my hands and try to disrupt the timing between him and Hasselbeck,” said Williams. “He’s fast and physical, and he has the uncanny ability to catch the ball in traffic. “He’s a good young player, and you don’t want to let those guys get into a rhythm, so you have to get your hands on them as fast as possible.”
Cary Williams is one of the many feel-good stories coming out of Ravens camp this past summer. Williams flat out made this team...and then kept pushing through to become not only a factor at nickel corner and special teams, but also now a starter assigned to cover Kenny Britt.
The Ravens' biggest defensive challenge on Sunday is containing the running game and offensive-line bulldozing of the Titans, led by their incredibly quick running back Chris Johnson. But the next most important thing is to keep QB Matt Hasselbeck from lighting it up in the air with Kenny Britt.
Hasselbeck owns a 107.0 career quarterback rating in two games against the Ravens. It’s the third-highest career mark he has against any team in the NFL. Linebacker Terrell Suggs still remembers Hasselbeck’s last trip to Baltimore. He completed 23 of 41 passes for 333 yards and a staggering five touchdowns on Nov. 23, 2003. The Ravens still won the 44-41 shootout. However, Hasselbeck and the Seahawks topped the Ravens four years later in Seattle. He notched 199 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions that day.
“I remember in my rookie year he came down here and lit us up,” Suggs said. “We went up there in 2007 and he kind of lit us up again and they ran the ball against us. “He’s had some success against us, so we’ve definitely got to take a look at that and correct some things before we face him on Sunday.”
Hasselbeck said he’s still gelling with his new team and said there’s “obviously going to be some growing pains.” He’s also still adjusting to the AFC, where he doesn’t know the opponents nearly as well after spending his entire career in the NFC (10 years with Seattle)....
However, Hasselbeck is familiar with the Ravens’ 2011 defense, which forced seven turnovers and handcuffed the Steelers. “They made a statement with the first game, really, a statement around the league, about what kind of defense they plan on having this year,” he said. “It was impressive. For any team that has to turn on that film looking at that next opponent, they definitely made that statement.”