Ravens' Foxworth finding his way, slowly

OWINGS MILLS -- Stumbling as he got lost on a sudden move from Pittsburgh Steelers speedy wide receiver Santonio Holmes a week ago, Baltimore Ravens cornerback Domonique Foxworth was unable to regain the ground he had surrendered.   So, Holmes burst into the end zone for a touchdown.   It was a microcosm of Foxworth's inaugural season in Baltimore.

The former University of Maryland star from Randallstown has had a rough initiation during his first season with the Ravens.

  Since signing a four-year, $27.2 million contract this offseason that included $16.5 million in guaranteed money, Foxworth has struggled to adjust.

  Although Foxworth has begun to not be beaten as often on long passes lately with notable improvement over the past few weeks, there have been far more touchdowns given up than interceptions over the course of the season.  

He has only picked off one pass in 11 starts heading into Monday night's game against the Green Bay Packers, and that turnover was during the third week of the season against suspect Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn.

  "I definitely feel like I'm getting more comfortable," Foxworth said. "It's tough not making as many big plays as I'm used to making. You have to be patient.  

"Those will come. When you try to force it, that's when you get your team in trouble. As long as we're winning and I'm playing well, I don't really care."

  One common scenario has unfolded on the majority of the passes caught against Foxworth in single coverage, and that's him losing his footing.

  Is it attributable to his cleats, the playing surfaces or simply the moves executed by a bevy of upper echelon receivers that has included Holmes, Randy Moss, Vincent Jackson and Chad Ochocinco?

  "Nah, things happen," Foxworth said. "You can never really make excuses, blaming the surface. Everyone is playing on it. You have to alter your technique however you need to."

  Foxworth said that the coaching staff hasn't made the chronic slips a point of emphasis with him, and it's not something that he's consumed with.

  "I haven't really thought about it," Foxworth said. "It's nothing we've talked about around here."

  Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison defended Foxworth's play, noting that not much attention is paid to the times where he maintains tight coverage.  

For the season, Foxworth has deflected a team-high 11 passes.

  "Domonique when you look at the tapes and again it's the position, you may see the one play that he doesn't do great or slips or doesn't do what he should do," Mattison said. "We see the whole game, and we feel like Domonique and the entire secondary .. they just keep working every day to get better and they have gotten better."

  Still, the lack of interceptions has grated on Foxworth.  

"I think the coaches recognize my frustration in wanting to be a big playmaker on the team," Foxworth said. "I think we all see what happens when you play in the scheme and you play smart. Those chances will come. It's important to tackle well and minimize the big play when you're matched up on the best receiver week in and week out."

  Now, Foxworth is preparing for the Packers' potent passing game led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.  

Overall, the secondary is gradually improving as well as the entire defense.  

The Ravens have allowed an average of just 11.3 points and 181 passing yards over the past three weeks. They intercepted Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning twice and held him to one touchdown pass.  

"When we look at the final score and we've got more points than they've had, then we've done our job as a defense."

  For the season, the Ravens rank 12th in pass defense with an average of 211.3 yards allowed per game.

  The Ravens are banking on Foxworth eventually growing into the role as their top cornerback assigned to cover opponents' most dangerous receivers.  

"I think we're getting better and better," Foxworth said. "We're putting some of the inconsistencies from earlier this season behind us and are focusing on playing consistent football."


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