Elam: Lift or liability as starting safety?

Elam: Lift or liability as starting safety?
September 16, 2013, 7:00 am
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Pass rush makes biggest difference vs. Browns

EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens on Monday, looking back on Sunday’s victory over the Browns.

Two-minute topic: Is Matt Elam a lift or a liability as a rookie starting safety?

Elam got the first start of his career Sunday, replacing Michael Huff, who was benched by coach John Harbaugh.

On the Browns’ first play from scrimmage, Elam got off to a rocky start, when tight end James Cameron caught a pass in front of Elam and rumbled for a 56-yard gain. However, the Browns settled for a field goal. Elam settled down. And his first game as a starter in the NFL ended with a victory.

There will be more starts for Elam, many more. He was the Ravens’ first round draft pick because the team’s coaches and front office believe Elam has what it takes to be a starter for many years. He is filling big shoes, because the Ravens lost both starting safeties from last year – Ed Reed (Texans) and Bernard Pollard (Titans). Elam has been eager to learn, a hard worker who has not taken his status as a high draft pick for granted. Told early last week that he would start, Elam was happy with how he responded.

“It meant a lot to me,” Elam said. “Whatever my role is, it’s to help this team win. It was exciting for me to have the opportunity. Glad they had trust in me. It was big for me. “I feel I did well, did my job. We executed. We made plays on the ball. We stopped them from scoring touchdowns.”

More often than not, Elam was in the right place at the right time Sunday, making three tackles and assisting on two others. Expect opposing quarterbacks to target Elam moving forward. That’s what happens to rookies. However, it is clear that Elam has a chance to be an impact rookie for the Ravens. The better he plays, the better off the Ravens secondary will be.

Morning thought – “Everybody with these athletic tight ends. We have one in (Dennis) Pitta. It came from Rob (Gronkowski) and (Aaron) Hernandez, guys like that, everybody is trying to find one, like (Jimmy) Graham down in New Orleans. It’s a hard matchup on safeties, it’s a mismatch sometimes. When you line the tight ends up on a linebacker, it’s kind of a mismatch. So everybody is trying to go that route.”

Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, on the NFL trend toward big and versatile tight ends.

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