Harbaugh: Elam is "a natural"

Harbaugh: Elam is "a natural"
July 23, 2013, 9:45 pm
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Matt Elam on Ravens D: 'Sky's the limit'

As the Ravens’ first-round draft pick this past spring, safety Matt Elam figured to get plenty of attention. But with both starting safeties from last season gone -- including Ravens legend Ed Reed – the rookie from Florida could quickly become one of the focal points of the Ravens' revamped defense.

Elam took part in the Ravens' first official training camp practice on Tuesday – for rookies, quarterbacks and injured players – and knows that he might be called upon to fill the major void in the secondary after the departure of Reed and Bernard Pollard.

"I just go out and keep on improving to be the best I can be," Elam said after practice Tuesday. "People have high expectations of me. They want me to do great things, but I’ve got to live up to my own expectations. The way I work and the way I study, I feel like that will take care of itself.”

Veteran Michael Huff, one of the Ravens' defensive offseason acquisitions, is expected to start at one safety, with Elam and James Ihedigbo likely to compete for the other starting spot.

Dating to the first minicamp, coach John Harbaugh noted how quickly Elam appeared to assimilate as a rookie, acting with confidence and barking out commands in the secondary. It can't hurt that Elam's brother, Abram, is a seven-year NFL veteran.

At 5-foot-10, Elam is considered undersized by some, and he said he has dropped about 8 pounds since the spring, reporting at about 200 pounds.

But speaking after Tuesday's roughly 70-minute workout, Harbaugh said there has been "nothing negative whatsoever" regarding Elam.

"He’s definitely a natural," Harbaugh said. "He’s got a gift for understanding the game from back there – his spacing, his awareness of routes, his understanding of where he needs to be relative to the guys around him. He’s got a good feel for that, so he should progress really quickly. Now, he’s gonna make his mistakes, but they all do. He is going to be a big factor for us.”