Practices this offseason look much different for inside linebacker Arthur Brown.
The former second-round pick is running with the starters, getting an opportunity to step on the field after a season where he didn't play a single defensive snap. Brown is taking first-team reps as C.J. Mosley recovers from offseason wrist surgery and with veteran Daryl Smith not participating in all of the voluntary practices.
The sample size is limited, but the coaches like what they see from Brown.
"He's having an outstanding camp," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "He's getting around, knowing what we really want to do on defense."
But no matter how good Brown looks at this point of the year, the tough reality for him is that he's still stuck behind two of the team's top defenders. Smith never comes off the field and leads the Ravens with 250 tackles the last two years. Mosley shined during his rookie campaign and became the first player in team history to earn a Pro Bowl selection in his first NFL season.
Their success relegated Brown to the sidelines, and he saw action in just four games on special teams last year. In his first two seasons, Brown has played in 18 games, registering 15 tackles and a forced fumble.
With Mosley and Smith clearly atop the defensive depth chart, Brown knows he may have to play his way onto the field on special teams.
"Right now that's where I can make the most contribution, just being an outstanding special teams player," he said.
The Ravens hardly used Brown as a special teamer last year, opting instead to go with undrafted rookie linebacker Zach Orr who played 15 games. Fifth-year linebacker Albert McClellan has also carved out a role as a special teams ace, and Brown wants to follow his lead.
"I see [McClellan's] mentality and I see the way he approaches the game, not only from a defensive unit but the special teams phase. He takes it seriously. He embraces his job and as a result he's successful. That's the kind of mindset I need to take and we all need to take."
A strong offseason and training camp is critical for Brown going into his third year in the NFL. His playing time has been extremely limited his first two seasons, and some pundits have speculated this could be a make-or-break year for Brown.
Brown isn't looking at it in those terms, however.
"I do have an opportunity and I'm going to take it one step, one day at a time," Brown said. "I'm finding my role and am really contributing a lot more this year."