In personality, he isn’t like James Ihedigbo or Bernard Pollard, two brash safeties the Ravens have seen play big roles for them the past two seasons after being released by former teams.
But Stewart could be on a similar trajectory.
Stewart’s looking to go from being a player not many people have heard of to the Ravens’ starting safety, and eventually somebody people are buzzing about.
“Probably the only reason why people don’t know my name is because of injuries,” Stewart said after Friday’s training camp practice, in which he tipped one pass that led to an interception.
“But this year it’s going to be a little different.”
Over the past two seasons, Stewart has missed a combined seven games, mostly with hamstring injuries. They cost him a starting job coming out of camp last year.
Stewart’s most extensive starting experience came in 2011, when he started 13 of 15 games for the St. Louis Rams. He made 84 tackles, broke up 11 passes, forced two fumbles and snagged one interception, which he returned 27 yards for a touchdown.
Stewart was then playing for former St. Louis Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo, who now coaches Stewart again as the Ravens’ secondary coach/assistant head coach. Spagnuolo has always been a fan of Stewart’s, and was part of the reason he was brought to Baltimore.
“‘Stew’ is one of those guys that when we took [him] as a free agent, the thing that stuck out was that he was a very explosive guy,” Spagnuolo said.
“I’m talking about change of direction and not necessarily just straight speed. He’s showing that a little bit now. I remember that being vivid when he was a young guy. When we [signed] him, my hope was he’d still have that. He still does.”
Stewart has been the primary safety running with the first-team defense. While he hasn’t made too many flashy plays to this point, he’s assimilated well. It doesn’t seem like there’s a new piece in the defensive backfield.
“Darian has done well,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
“Every time I watch him, he’s in the right place, he’s doing the right thing. He has great body language. He’s working his rear end off, and he looks like a football player. He’s a good tackler, playing the ball well.”
One of Stewart’s main objectives during training camp is to simply stay healthy. He’s been more mindful of his diet, fluid intake and stretching since coming to Baltimore, trying to take better care of his body.
Asked what he needs to show over the next few weeks to prove that he’s deserving of the starting job, Stewart said the ability to stay healthy.
“When I’m healthy, my play speaks for itself,” he said. “I feel I can do it all. Just stay healthy – that’s good enough.”