As Marlon Brown limped back to the Georgia locker room the shock subsided and reality hit him as hard as the Ole Miss defender's helmet had hit his left kneecap.

The team's trainer had just told him that his anterior cruciate ligament was shredded. His college career was over. His NFL aspirations were in jeopardy. Why him? Why now?

Brown remembers entering the empty locker room its lights dimmed. While the senior wide receiver was at the hospital his Bulldogs teammates had departed Sanford Stadium off to celebrate a blowout victory. Alone Brown sat at his locker one last time tears streaming down his face.

"When it happened I probably cried for about 10 minutes. But I never thought about giving up. Never that" Brown said this week. "I decided I wasn't going to feel sad for myself and give myself excuses. I was just going to work extra hard to get where I wanted to go."

Ten months later Brown has surprised everyone besides maybe himself and his closest supporters by overcoming the major knee injury to not only make the Ravens as a rookie free agent but also make an immediate impact in the team's season-opening 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos.

The path to the NFL was not as direct as he first envisioned but Brown has made it nonetheless. Now that he is here the Ravens are relying on him to take on a larger role after starting wide receiver Jacoby Jones injured his knee in Denver. Brown could start opposite of Torrey Smith on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns and his quarterback feels he is ready for the opportunity.

"You can tell nothing is too big for him and he's ready to go in there and make plays" Joe Flacco said. "He's obviously going to have to clean up some things and learn on the fly a little bit but you've got to like that. He's a good player and I think he's going to have a good future for us."