When Arthur Brown arrived in Baltimore in 2013, the second-round pick had a simple objective.
"My goal coming into this league was to be a productive, competitive player," he said. "That hasn't changed since I've been here. I'm just going to keep striving and preparing to achieve that goal."
In his first three seasons, Brown has been competitive, but not very productive.
He has just 17 tackles, a half sack and one forced fumble. He played in all 16 games last year, but saw defensive action in just two contests (Weeks 9 and 10). The two tackles he made over the course of the season were both on special teams.
But as Brown kicks off his fourth year of Organized Team Activities, he finally has an avenue toward more defensive action. He has to make the most of this summer, starting immediately.
The Ravens released veteran inside linebacker Daryl Smith in early March and he signed with Tampa Bay, leaving a starting spot next to C.J. Mosley open. Mosley is moving into Smith's former "MIKE" position, so the battle is for the "WILL" spot.
Baltimore didn't sign anybody else and didn't draft an inside linebacker. The Ravens re-signed veteran Albert McClellan, but the only additions they made are small-school undrafted rookies Cavellis Luckett and Patrick Onwuasor.
Suddenly, Brown is right in the thick of the competition.
"I came here to play, not only on special teams but as a linebacker," Brown said. "I'm itching to get out there and be able to showcase and contribute to the team on a defensive level."
Brown's main challengers are Albert McClellan and Zachary Orr.
McClellan is a special teams maven who has shown he can also step into the defense when needed. Orr saw more snaps as last year went on. He often replaced Smith in passing situations. The third-year North Texas undrafted rookie played well, notching 22 tackles, one sack and one pass defensed.
Brown could also be battling an unknown. The Ravens could always sign a free agent inside linebacker down the road if they determine that they need one. He wants to prove they don't need to make that move.
So Brown's path to the field has fewer obstacles, but he'll still have competition to win the job.
"I look at the guys that we have in the room and we're all competing to make each other better," Brown said. "C.J. is a great player. Zach Orr is doing a helluva job. Albert McClellan has been here for quite a while and is a versatile player. We've got a great crew."
Brown isn't looking backwards. His first three years are behind him, and there's no sense in worrying about what could have been. Entering the final year of his rookie contract, he needs to put it all together immediately.
"I see it as a learning process, a building process throughout my career," he said. "I'm thankful to God just to* *be here. But just being here requires something from me. I'm looking forward to being productive and contributing."
It's not unheard of for a Ravens prospect to be a late bloomer. Paul Kruger was a second-round pick in 2009 who struggled to see the field in his first two seasons. He broke out with a nine-sack season in his fourth year, earning a big contract from the Browns the following offseason.
Brown has the talent to take a similar path. So what does he have to do to prove he's worthy of the opportunity?
"I think it comes down to being productive out here on the field in practice," Brown said. "That translates to the game field. As long as I can come in, be productive, make plays, be consistent, then I'll have a shot."