The safety has spent the last three months adjusting to the Ravens defense after spending the first four years of his career in St. Louis, and he now looks like the favorite to start alongside
Stewart has impressed the coaching staff through the early part of the offseason, and he’s developing a strong rapport next to Elam.
“I feel like me and Matt have good chemistry already,” Stewart said. “It’s going real well. As long as you communicate, everything plays its part.”
When the Ravens first signed Stewart in March, many speculated that the team would ultimately bring in additional players to compete for the starting safety job. The Ravens ended up picking Florida State’s
The Ravens still have plenty of time to decide on a starter, but Stewart appears to be in line for the job.
“We’re a long way from naming the guys that are the starters, but I feel good about the guys that are back there,” Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said after a recent practice.
The Ravens have said from the time they signed Stewart that he could end up in the starting lineup.
The fact that General Manager Ozzie Newsome signed him as an undrafted free agent spoke to the value the team placed on him. Newsome typically prefers to sign players cut by other teams, rather than unrestricted free agents who count against the compensatory pick formula.
Stewart, however, was an unrestricted free agent who signed with the Ravens in hopes of becoming a starter.
“I feel like I can play in this league anywhere, so knowing that I had the opportunity to become a starter was a main factor,” Stewart said.
The biggest issue for Stewart during his NFL career has been his inability to stay healthy. He has never played a full 16-game season, and a hamstring injury has plagued him over the last two years.
Stewart’s best season came in 2011 when he started 13 games and collected 84 tackles, three sacks, an interception and a defensive touchdown. To return to that kind of player in 2014, Stewart has put his attention on maintaining his health.
“I mainly have to just stay healthy. That’s my main focus,” Stewart said. “I feel like I’m a smart guy, and I can play as long as I’m healthy.”
If Stewart is able to stay healthy, he sees a big season ahead for the Ravens secondary.
“I can make a lot of plays on the back end,” Stewart said. “It’s a bunch of playmakers back there.”