OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Baltimore Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam is getting comfortable.
Elam is making fewer mistakes than he was when he first took over as Baltimore’s starting free safety in Week 2. But the first-round pick has yet to produce any of the big plays he delivered on such a consistent basis as a Gator.
“Every week it looks like he’s in better position, seeing more things,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s making better decisions back there every week. But they’re going to test him” on Sunday.
The Ravens play at Cleveland on Sunday.
Harbaugh said Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner “is going to come at him with some new under, over, bend-away-type route that’s going to challenge him, and he’s going to have to do a good job.”
Elam has had lapses that have contributed to the Ravens giving up big plays.
He allowed Miami Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace to get behind him for a 49-yard catch in Week 5.
He also had a key missed tackle on Buffalo running back Fred Jackson’s 16-yard touchdown run in Week 4 during and appeared to have been burned on Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron’s 53-yard catch-and-run in Week 2.
“I feel like I’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Elam said. “I’ve got to keep improving and learning the small things. I’ve still got a lot to improve on.”
But Elam has been more active the last two games and didn’t have any noticeable missed assignments against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Baltimore’s most recent game before its bye week.
He had eight tackles against the Green Bay Packers in Week 6 and three tackles and a fumble recovery versus the Steelers.
“I think he’s just developing in all areas,” Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “And in some ways, he’s still got a lot to learn in all areas. The more he plays, the better he’s going to be. He loves playing football. That’s what I love about him. He enjoys the game. It means a lot to him. He studies hard and works hard in practice.”
Elam doesn’t have any of the big hits or game-changing interceptions that he became so associated with at Florida, but teammates and coaches still see the same characteristics in Elam that Baltimore became so enamored with leading up to the draft.
“He’s a young, aggressive player,” Ravens defensive lineman Chris Canty said. “You can see the talent there. You’re just waiting for the game to slow down for him. As soon as that happens, he’s going to take off. His performance is going to be exponential as far as what he can do and what he can help us with on this defense.
“He’s got all the physical tools to do everything you would want a safety to do.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)