The Ravens cornerback started answering a question about overall expectations for the defense, and that’s when he went into a string of effusive praise for the second-year safety.
“The person who is just really growing is Matt Elam,” Webb said. “From last year to this year, I see a big jump with his leadership, with him controlling the back end and just being that safety, controlling the calls. I just really like where I see him going.”
Elam had a strong rookie season after the Ravens selected him with the No. 32 overall pick. He won a starting job by Week 2, and finished the season with 76 tackles, three passes defensed and one interception.
It was a solid start to his career, but Elam went into the offseason with expectations to make significant strides in his sophomore campaign.
“I didn’t feel too good about the rookie season, but I put it behind me,” Elam said. “I approached the offseason to get better and improve in communication and my footwork, just to make myself better in my second year.”
Last year Elam started alongside veteran James Ihedigbo, who operated as the strong safety. Ihedigbo is known as a vocal defender, and he was responsible for controlling the calls in the secondary.
Now Elam is grabbing the reins.
“I feel like taking on that role now that James is gone,” Elam said. “They expect more from me because I’ve been in the system for a year and it’s my second year. I need to be that guy on the back end that lines guys up and takes control.”
Webb hasn’t noticed Elam speaking up just for the sake of being louder, but he actually has a stronger grasp on the defense.
Now he’s able to impress that knowledge upon his teammates, even the veterans.
“I’m seeing him just taking control – just taking control with communicating with the linebackers and with me,” Webb said. “Last year, I was a veteran, so I guess he didn’t communicate with me like he wanted to. Now, if he says it, it’s what he says – we play what he says. It’s just how he speaks; he speaks with confidence now, and you can just tell.”
The Ravens need Elam to grow up fast in his second season, as he will likely play alongside rookie third-round pick
“I feel more confident because I’ve been in it for a year, I started 15 games, and I know what I’m doing now. I can play faster and make calls easier,” Elam said. “The coaches have confidence in me now, so that’s my role now to be a leader and make those calls.”