Harbaugh on next year's improvements
Matt Elam may be used primarily at strong safety next season, particularly if the Ravens acquire a starting free safety during the offseason. James Ihedigbo is the current starting strong safety, but he is a free agent who may not return.
While Ihedigbo and Elam have the versatility to play either safety spot, Elam feels most comfortable at strong safety, playing closer to the line of scrimmage and supporting run defense. Elam is an aggressive tackler, but sometimes he can be overly aggressive. Like in the season finale, when Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green easily got behind Elam for a 53-yard touchdown catch.
“Matt is probably `quote un-quote’ - as you would say – more of a strong safety in your vision of what those guys are,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh at his season-ending press conference. “Safeties are more interchangeable these days.
“I will say this, to your point: Matt is pretty darn good when he is running to the ball and making tackles. I think that’s definitely a strength for him, and he showed that toward the end of the year.”
Forced into the starting lineup after Michael Huff was a free-agent bust, Elam showed the talent to be a long-term starter. If he can play strong safety instead of free safety, Elam may take another step forward next season.
“He feels like he should be making a lot more plays,” Harbaugh said. “OK, I’m on board with that. The thing I pointed out to him is when you’re a safety, you better be solid first. And he was solid first as a safety. He was in the right spot most of the time doing the right things. Not 100 percent, it showed up in the Cincinnati game. But for the most part, he was solid back there. He can build on that and he will.”