Anthony Levine Has Improbable Debut at Corner for Ravens


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens defensive back Anthony Levine (41) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Levine worked out all week as he normally does, even after receiving a text message from Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo Tuesday night that simply said “be ready.”  It was merely hours before Sunday’s game that Levine learned the real meaning behind the message – that he would be starting at cornerback against the Titans.

This news was incredible for a number of reasons.  For one, Levine is listed as a safety and has been throughout his three year tenure with the Ravens.  Before his debut as a corner Sunday, Levine has totaled a whopping five snaps on defense this season.  Largely relegated to special teams, no one outside of the coaching staff expected to see him starting opposite Lardarius Webb this week.

The prevailing opinion was that one of waiver wire claim Danny Gorrer or practice squad call up Tramain Jacobs would start, but by the end of the game it was obvious that the Raven’s coaching staff made the right choice.  Gorrer played a good bit as well and had a great game too, but he has a whole lot more real game experience than Levine at this point in their respective careers.

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Playing 43 out of 59 snaps against the Titans, Levine racked up a pretty impressive stat line as well.  He finished with four tackles, including two defensive stops, a quarterback hit, and two deflected passes.  He finished with the highest rating of any defensive back on the team in week ten, and was the second best defensive player on the team by Pro Football Focus’ ratings, finishing only behind Haloti Ngata.

Is Levine’s impressive performance against the Titans a sign of things to come?  Obviously we must take this game with a grain of salt after it came against a two win team at home, a rebuilding organization that trotted out a rookie quarterback for his first road start.  It may be a bit early to say that the Ravens have found another diamond in the rough that can line up across from Jimmy Smith next season and beyond, but the early diagnosis is good.

Anthony Levine’s post game comments show that he is certainly ready for the opportunity. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time to call myself a starter in something in the NFL – whether it was safety or corner,” Levine said. “I’m happy to say that I was the starting corner today for the Baltimore Ravens.”

John Harbaugh had nothing but praise following the game as well. “Anthony Levine played really good football out there. It’s something that we’ve kind of been watching for a number of weeks and months, I guess. And he gets better every single week. I guess we’re not going to call him a safety anymore. He deserves to be called a corner.”

Levine’s performance Sunday was a big shock to most of the world, but obviously not to the Raven’s coaching staff.  But before we anoint him as the cornerback of the future, Levine has several tough tests coming after this week’s bye, beginning with a road trip to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saint’s aerial attack in week 12.

At least for his part, Anthony Levine sounds ready for the challenge. “It wasn’t that much of a difficult transition [from safety] because I always worked on my back pedal,” Levine said. “But doing it in the NFL, it was kind of different. Going against top athletes and I’ve never done it before. I’m a born competitor though. I just went out there and competed.”  And really, isn’t that what it’s all about?