Ravens' Martin making his bid for a job

OWINGS MILLS -- Derrick Martin watched Minnesota Vikings rookie quarterback John David Booty staring down his intended target, quickly becoming aware that the football was intended to go to wide receiver Nate Jones. So, the Baltimore Ravens' cornerback took a calculated risk.

During the huddle, Martin had already informed rookie safeties Haruki Namakura and Tom Zbikowski to watch out for the pump fake just in case he was wrong. He wasn't, though, jumping in front of a short pass to Jones for a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Ravens' 23-15 loss to the Vikings on Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

"We were reading the quarterback and there was a lot of communication," said Martin, adding that he was unaware of Booty's inexperience. "I told them I thought that route was coming. They covered my back, and I jumped in. I had help."

For Martin, this was more than a mere exploitation of a raw quarterback during garbage time. This was about his survival in the NFL as he tries to claim one of the final spots on the Ravens' roster.

"Maybe I made a play to get a job, I'm always thinking that," Martin said. "Every opportunity you get to make a play, the coaches see it and everybody around the league sees it. It meant a lot.

"I made the play and took it to the house, and I think everybody recognizes that. I'm battling out here, and I think the coaches recognize that and I think they appreciate it."

Martin nearly intercepted another pass during a previous drive. He finished with a team-high three pass deflections.

"Derrick put it all together," safety Dawan Landry said. "He's maturing."

Martin's touchdown capped the scoring, and was one of the few defensive bright spots on a night where communication was poor and the secondary allowed two touchdown passes.

"After that other interception I dropped, I was just trying to redeem myself," Martin said. "It means a lot, especially when you're trying to make that spark for the team and the coaches are watching.

"I'm trying to give them something to think about. I've been working on my coverage skills, and I showcased them. I feel like I'm on top of my game."

Because the Ravens have several veteran cornerbacks assured of a job, including starters Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle as well as Fabian Washington, Corey Ivy and Frank Walker, Martin is hoping the coaches will retain him as the sixth cornerback.

He entered training camp under the gun, but seems to be separating from David Pittman and Ronnie Prude at this point.

The former sixth-round pick from Wyoming intercepted two passes with 40 tackles in three starts last season.

"I feel like the pressure is always on me when you play on an island," Martin said. "If they keep five, they keep five. If they keep six, they keep six. I can't control that.

"There's 31 other teams out there. I want to play in Baltimore. If any of us gets let go, then we'll get picked up. If you can play man-to-man in the NFL, you're always going to have a job."

THIRD-DOWN STRUGGLES: The Ravens allowed the Vikings to converted seven of 10 third downs during the first half, finishing with 11 of 19 efficiency for the game.

The Ravens' lack of pass rush contributed heavily to the breakdowns as they registered only two sacks with none against the Vikings' top three quarterbacks.

"We gave them too many plays," defensive coordinator Rex Ryan said. "We didn't close. If you get near the quarterback, you have to make the play. We didn't do that."

QUICK HITS: The Ravens' communication issues on defense led to both touchdown passes, according to coaches and players. During the first score, Washington was pointing at Landry before Martin Nance crossed the end zone. "It was a rough night," Landry admitted. "We miscommunicated a lot of calls where coach made a call and the guys thought it was something else. We'll get on the same page. Rex was pretty mad because that's real simple stuff that could easily be avoided." ... Zbikowski recorded five tackles with one sack, two tackles for losses and a quarterback hit as he was deployed near the line of scrimmage a lot. ... Landry and defensive tackle Amon Gordon led the Ravens with six tackles followed by Walker's five, but he was repeatedly targeted downfield. ... Tight end Adam Bergen caught a game-high six passes for 35 yards followed by wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright's five catches for 37 yards. ... Rookie running back Ray Rice's family attended his first home game in Baltimore, and he gave them a reason to cheer with 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. "It's always great to see my mom out there," Rice said. "She's my biggest fan. Getting that touchdown at home and with my family there meant a lot to me, too."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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