New Ironman in Baltimore: Brandon Carr has started every game since '08

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- At Monday's introductory news conference, new Baltimore Ravens cornerback Brandon Carr was asked by defensive coordinator Dean Pees whether he has ever missed a game in his NFL career.

"Never," Carr said, immediately knocking on what he hopes to be a wooden table in front of them.

Remarkably, Carr has started every game since he entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick out of Grand Valley State in 2008. His streak of 144 straight starts is sixth-longest among active players and currently leads all defensive players.

If that doesn't put it in perspective, the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson has the second-longest streak for cornerbacks at 96 starts. That's three full seasons behind Carr.

"I feel like we are getting a heck of a football player, one of the most solid, dependable corners in football," coach John Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh acknowledged that Carr's durability played "a big part" in Baltimore signing him to what is essentially a one-year, $6 million deal with team options after each of the next three seasons. The Ravens seem to go through cornerbacks like the Cleveland Browns go through quarterbacks.

During Carr's nine-year Ironman streak, Baltimore has started a whopping 23 cornerbacks, according to John McTigue of ESPN Stats & Information. Even the most die-hard Ravens fan would consider it a challenge to list all of these names without Google's help: Anthony Levine, Asa Jackson, Cary Williams, Chris Carr, Chris Johnson, Chris McAlister, Chykie Brown, Corey Graham, Corey Ivy, Dominique Franks, Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, Frank Walker, Jerraud Powers, Jimmy Smith, Josh Wilson, Kyle Arrington, Lardarius Webb, Rashaan Melvin, Samari Rolle, Shareece Wright, Sheldon Price and Tavon Young.

Why has Carr been able to play every week while others have not?

"Sometimes I do not even know how I do it myself -- with the injuries that I won't even talk about," Carr said. "I just keep playing through them. Sometimes it is just the luck of the draw, and sometimes it is just being stupid and playing through whatever is going on. If I can go out there and play and give you something, then I am going to go out there and suit up and give you what I have."

No defensive player has been on the field more than Carr since 2008. With the Chiefs and Cowboys, he has played 8,945 snaps, nearly 500 more than any other defender (safety Antoine Bethea is second with 8,451).

Carr said there were "many of times" when he didn't know if he was going to play that week. His parents saw it firsthand.

"They finally started coming to the house before games ... just to see my process from Monday through Tuesday with whatever nagging injury and moving slow around the house -- to getting to Saturday and especially on Sunday, going out there full speed like nothing is wrong," Carr said. "That kind of blew their mind."

For someone who has never missed a game, Carr briefly contemplated retiring following the Cowboys' emotional 34-31 loss to the Packers in the playoffs. It ended with Aaron Rodgers converting a third-and-20 with 18 seconds remaining to set up the winning field goal.

"It probably lasted about 17 seconds, and you get it out of your system," Carr said of his thoughts about walking away from the game. "It was a tough loss [in the playoffs to Green Bay]. It is a game of inches, and on that particular play at the end, it just took a lot out of me. It just hurt. It hurt a lot. It still hurts, but at the same time, I feel like I have a lot of football left to play."

Carr is an important piece to the Ravens' revamped secondary. But he isn't the final one.

Harbaugh mentioned the Ravens aren't finished bolstering their defensive backfield. Baltimore can draft a corner in the early rounds this year because of Carr's age (he turns 31 in May) and the way his contract is structured (it might be for only one or two years).

For now, Carr is a solid, No. 2 corner who impressed Harbaugh with his aggressiveness in challenging receivers in critical situations and making plays on the ball. If the Ravens had to play today, they would start Carr and Jimmy Smith on the outside and move talented young corner Tavon Young into his natural nickelback role.

"We feel like we can line up a secondary right now with very good football players," Harbaugh said. "[We can line up] with two excellent corners on the edges, with an excellent young corner at nickel and two veteran safeties [Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson] that know how to play the game. That is great news for the Ravens."