Brandon Carr to start for Ravens, keeping streak intact

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The return of Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith from a four-game suspension will not end Brandon Carr's decade-long streak.

Carr has started every game over his 10-year NFL career since being a fifth-round pick out of Grand Valley State. His streak of 164 straight starts is the longest current one for an NFL defender.

This mark will continue even though Smith came back to the practice field this week.

"I am not going to be the answer to that trivia question: Who stopped his streak?" Ravens defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale said Thursday. "There will always be a way that he's going to run out there."

The expectation was that Smith would return to the starting lineup alongside Marlon Humphrey, the team's first-round pick from a year ago.

Without Smith, the Ravens are the No. 2 defense in the NFL and No. 4 against the pass. Baltimore held Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to 50 yards passing in the second half of Sunday night's 26-14 win.

Now, it appears there will be a rotation in the secondary with Carr, Smith, Humphrey and nickelback Tavon Young. However, there is one certainty as to who will be on the field to begin games.

"I know Brandon is going to be out there at the start of games," safety Eric Weddle said. "We're not going to be the team or the defensive coordinator that isn't going to have Brandon out there for the amazing career and streak he has. He's earned it. He's playing at a high level. That's not even a topic for us."

Carr has played at a high level this season. He's rated as the 19th-best cornerback by Pro Football Focus -- the best among Ravens cornerbacks.

His durability has been unmatched among defenders. The next closest steak is Detroit safety Quin Glover, who has started 136 games in a row.

The only longer current streak belongs to Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who has 196 straight starts.

Carr's next start will be Sunday against the Browns and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. When Carr's streak began, Mayfield was in eighth grade.

"I don't have any pride issues," Carr said when asked Sunday night about the possibility that the streak could end. "Just keep it simple, man. May the best man play, and let's all get everybody on board and win these football games."

Smith returned to the Ravens after being suspended by the NFL in late August for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The discipline stemmed from a petition filed by the mother of his first child that accused him of domestic violence. The NFL found evidence of "threatening and emotionally abusive behaviors" by Smith toward his former girlfriend, according to a statement released by the team at the time.

In speaking for the first time since serving his suspension, Smith said Thursday he legally couldn't talk about the cause of his suspension.

"You get time to kind of recalibrate personally," Smith said. "You think about life. This time, it gave me an opportunity to really sit down and just get that love back, get my body back, get my mind and my personal life in order."

During his time away, Smith said he had an engagement party and learned he was having a second child with his fiancee.

Smith received a countdown to his return through texts from Weddle. At one point, Weddle told Smith that it was down to 48 hours. Responded Smith: "It's actually 34 hours and 30 minutes."

"Amazing. Simply amazing," Smith said. "I miss being around the guys, talking being around football. It's my life."