J. Smith Finding A Nose For The End Zone

Jimmy Smith attributes his two interceptions in three games to better film study.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Ryan Mink, Week 13 vs Browns

Jimmy Smith was the definition of a college shutdown cornerback. Opponents rarely threw his way and found little success when they did.

But according to him, he was relying on his athletic ability.

Combine that talent with NFL film study, and the Ravens now have a blossoming cornerback.

Smith notched his second interception of the season – and second in three games – Sunday in Cleveland, and he attributed it to his work in the classroom.

“Honestly, that interception is 100 percent film study,” he said. “I know that they like that deep out. I read the quarterback’s eyes, and he was waiting for his dude to break, so I broke before him and the ball was right there.”

The first-round pick out of Colorado had a late start to his NFL career after injuring his ankle on the first play from scrimmage against Pittsburgh. He missed four games.

While Smith couldn’t be on the field, he still attended meetings. And he picked up some habits that are paying off now.

“Every day I become better as a student of the game,” said Smith, who technically got his first start because the Ravens came out in a nickel formation.

“Obviously, I have a lot of athletic ability. But that doesn’t mean anything unless you study. If you study concepts and start to get what they got going on and understand what they’re trying to do, then the game becomes a little simpler. That’s something I didn’t have in college. I’m happy I have it now.”

Smith’s next step is taking his interceptions to the house.

He picked off McCoy’s pass at the 47-yard line and returned it 32 yards to the Cleveland 15. Smith ran with a purpose, directing blockers ahead of him as if he was going to take it to the end zone.

But despite his teammates yelling at him from the bench to take it to the sideline, Smith cut right across the middle and was tackled. They gave him the same advice after his interception against Cincinnati, which he also took inside.

Smith only had three interceptions in his four year career at Colorado, so he doesn’t have a ton of experience in that area.

“I just don’t return balls,” Smith said with a laugh. “[My teammates] were like, ‘Stay to the sideline! Stay to the sideline!’ In my head, I’m like, ‘There’s the end zone to the right.’ So I cutback, but obviously I got tackled, so I guess I’m going to have to listen to them.”

Smith did have improvement in his second interception return. He didn’t fumble. Against the Bengals, he intercepted Andy Dalton at the 32 and took it back to the 16, where the ball was punched out from behind.

The Ravens ended up recovering at the 2-yard line and getting a touchdown, but it was definitely a learning opportunity: secure the ball.

“That’s the first thing I thought, especially because it’s raining too,” Smith said. “When the pick came, I grabbed it and squeezed it. Don’t fumble.”

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