Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam stands out from minicamp crowd

June 14, 2013|By Matt Vensel | The Baltimore Sun

There is a lot to take in when 80 or more players are competing at different stations at a three-day mandatory minicamp, though some of my colleagues in the media may argue that there really isn't much worth watching.

Still, of all the Ravens buzzing around out at The Castle, Matt Elam was one who consistently caught my eye. All week, the rookie safety was one of the most active players on defense, both before and after the snap.

Elam, the team's first-round draft pick out of Florida, made one of the most impressive plays of the week on Wednesday, when he was lined up as a single high safety.

As Joe Flacco scanned the field for an open receiver, Elam read the quarterback's eyes as he backpedaled, broke on the ball when Flacco released it, and made a leaping, two-handed grab on a deep pass -- I'd say it traveled at least 30 yards -- intended for Torrey Smith.

On that play, Elam flashed some of the things that caught the team's eye in the first place: instinct, athleticism and ball skills.

"He's tough, he's fast, he gets football, and I think he is going to be a fine player for us soon," secondary coach Teryl Austin said.

As my colleague Jeff Zrebiec wrote, Elam made some other impressive plays Thursday, maybe his best practice of the week.

What Elam was doing before the snap was equally entertaining.

We're not technically allowed to go into detail everything he was doing, but he was all over the place before the snap, lining up deep on one play and then up against a slow receiver on the next.

I wrote last week that he and safety Michael Huff could be interchangeable, and I like what I have seen so far. I'll say this: It should be fun watching Elam during those pre-snap chess matches this fall.

Elam also carries himself like a veteran, unlike some wide-eyed rookies of past and present. He believes in himself, and it shows.

"I have dreams of being great, being one of the greatest safeties to play the game," Elam told Zrebiec after the minicamp.

The confident 22-year-old has got a long way to go to get there, but this week's mandatory minicamp was a strong start.
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