Without Denzel Ward, the rest of the Browns' defensive backs will be forced to elevate their play Sunday in Baltimore.
One corner who Gregg Williams knows is capable? T.J. Carrie.
Williams said Carrie is playing as well as any corner over the past six or seven weeks, which is why he tagged Carrie to shadow All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins when Ward missed the Texans game.
Ward held Hopkins to 91 yards — 4 below his season average — and kept Hopkins out of the end zone.
Baltimore doesn't boast a receiver of Hopkins' ilk, so Carrie should be in line for another impressive performance. Perhaps a second interception on the season, which eluded him last week when he and Genard Avery ran into each other pursuing the pass.
Carrie said he and Avery laughed off the incident. But the praise from his coach is a serious confidence boost. Carrie said he's always had starter-level confidence, but his coach's approval adds another layer. Carrie even reciprocated Williams' praise.
"Definitely helps that all of the hard work pays off and you start to get the recognition of your coaching staff," Carrie said. "But our coaching staff alone has put us all in great position to make plays. A lot of the success is part of theirs as well as mine."
— The Browns defense needs to out-play the top-ranked unit in the league in order to win this week.
Yes, that means the Ravens' top-ranked rushing offense. But it also means playing stingier than the top-ranked defense in the league.
They'll never share the field, much like two quarterbacks who compete against each other, but they are engaged in an inherent competition. After all, the defense that allows fewer points wins the game.
"It's a competition between us to see who can have the better outing," defensive end Myles Garrett said of the defensive matchup. "Who gets more turnovers? who gets more negative plays? Who's able to keep the least points on the board? We're not really competing against the offense as much as we're trying to be better than their defense. Cause if we do, then our offense is obviously putting up more points and winning the game for us."
—Ward (concussion) and linebacker Tanner Vallejo (hamstring) will miss the season finale against the Baltimore.
Center JC Tretter (ankle) is questionable.