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John Harbaugh Comfortable Starting Two Young Safeties


We have a long way until the Ravens need to decide who their starting safeties will be.

But soon after Baltimore selected Terrence Brooks in the third round of Friday's draft, Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked if he would be comfortable having a young starting pair.

The Ravens could start the 23-year-old Brooks next to the 22-year old Elam, who was picked in the first round last year. It would be a very talented, but unexperienced duo.

"I'm really comfortable with those guys," Harbaugh said. "These are two good, young players, and it's a young man's game."

General Manager Ozzie Newsome also said he's "very comfortable" with that idea, but deferred to Harbaugh. "He determines who plays," Newsome said.

Newsome has seen his Ravens pair two young safeties together before. In 2002, the Ravens drafted Ed Reed in the first round. They signed Will Demps as an undrafted rookie free agent.

The two rookies held down the back of the secondary that year, but it wasn't a smooth process. The Ravens were second in the league in rush defense, but 26th in pass defense.

That doesn't mean it would work out the same this time, however. And the Ravens could break Brooks into a starting role.

Brooks will primarily compete with Darian Stewart, who the Ravens signed as a free agent this offseason, for the starting job. Stewart has started 29 NFL games in four years, limited mostly by injuries. The Ravens feel he can be a starter.

Last year, veteran Michael Huff started over Matt Elam in Week 1 before Elam took over. The Ravens could do the same with Stewart and Brooks.

Brooks started his last 27 games at Florida State (14 at free safety and 13 at strong safety), and appeared in 48 total contests, which is a lot of college experience, especially with such a major program. He's played in big games, including winning last year's BSC National Championship.

Asked if he feels he will be ready to start immediately, Brooks said, "Definitely."

"That's my standard and my mindset going in," Brooks said. "Florida State prepared me very well to take over a defense and just be the commander back there, so it wouldn't be a problem."

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