Ravens safety Darian Stewart was looking forward to the Ravens’ first practice in pads on Saturday
“You’ve got to love contact, especially at this level,” Stewart said. “I’m all for it, I don’t back down from any contact.
Stewart isn’t backing down on the field either. Signed as a free agent this offseason, Stewart is competing with rookie Terrence Brooks for the starting job at free safety. At age 25, this is Stewart’s best chance to become an NFL starter. During four seasons with the Rams, hamstring injuries made it difficult for Stewart to reach his potential.
“That’s probably the only reason why people don’t know my name is because of injuries,” said Stewart. “But this year it’s going to be a little different.”
Early in training camp, coach John Harbaugh has been impressed with Stewart’s awareness and aggressiveness.
“Darian’s done well,” Harbaugh said. “Every time I watch him he’s in the right place, doing the right thing He’s got great body language, he’s working his rear end off. He looks like a football player. He’s a good tackler, playing the ball well. It’s going to be interesting when the pads come on. I’m very pleased with Darian.”
Stewart is drinking plenty of water and stretching frequently in an attempt to avoid hamstring issues. He also reported to training camp in top shape.
If Stewart can avoid injury throughout the preseason, there is a good chance he will find himself in the staring lineup Week 1. That would allow the Ravens to give Brooks more time to develop.