There's a reason why Kamalei Correa is running with the first-team defense.
It's because the rookie second-round pick is standing out – in multiple ways.
In Monday's stadium practice, it was because of a scuffle with tight end Dennis Pitta, then big hit on wide receiver Mike Wallace that drew a scolding from quarterback Joe Flacco.
On Saturday, it was a fingertips interception of Flacco that was one of the most impressive defensive plays of training camp thus far.
Any way you slice it, Correa is making a strong first impression, and is looking like the leading candidate to be the starting inside linebacker next to C.J. Mosley.
"I'm just playing football," Correa said Monday night. "It's a game of football and you have to be physical, because if you ain't, then you're going to get hit upside your head."
When Correa was originally drafted, fans and pundits saw him as a quarterback-seeking missile off the edge. He was thought to be the next pass rusher in line behind Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil.
But the Ravens want to get Correa on the field as soon as possible, and the best way to do that, for now, is at inside linebacker. Correa could share the job with Zachary Orr.
It works out well. The Ravens had an opening with the departure of Daryl Smith and Correa has some experience, and the skillset, to play inside. It puts more pass rushers on the field, something the Ravens would like to do after struggling to get to the quarterback last year.
However, while Correa did play inside some at Boise State, it's still been an adjustment in the NFL.
"Good, bad – little bit of both," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said of Correa's start. "This is a point in time I think you don't want to go ever too far as a coach one way or the other. You don't want to be too excited about it and you don't want to be too pessimistic about it, either."
Correa said the hardest part of the transition to the NFL is that "nobody is junk." Everybody is so good, he says.
But he's having fun learning, and he's doing a good job with it. Pees said he hasn't seen a lot of mental mistakes, which is a good sign.
"It feels fun," Correa said. "It is football; you still have to go get the ball. I do want to give a lot of credit to [linebackers] coach Don Martindale and [staff assistant] John Egorugwu. They have been very patient with me."
Correa showed off his instincts during an interception Saturday. Martindale has been telling him to work on getting deeper in his drops, and Correa did just that. Once he pushed out of his drop, he sunk even further and was just deep enough to get his hand on a pass over his head. He tipped it to himself with one hand and hauled it in.
In addition to his coaches, Correa has also been keeping a close eye on the man playing next to him. When asked if there's an inside linebacker he's watched on film, Correa pointed to Mosley.
"I used to watch him in college, and I was like, 'That guy is good!'" Correa said. "Then he gets drafted to the Ravens. Then I get drafted to the Ravens. I had a lot of flashbacks. … He is just all-around a good dude, and he is a [darn] good football player. I'm trying to model my game after him."
Mosley is a good guy to follow. After all, he was a Pro Bowler in 2014. Mosley notched 133 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and one forced fumble as a rookie.
Correa said Mosley's best advice to him so far is not to overthink things.
"Just get to the ball. It's plain and simple," Correa said. "It's football, you have to get to the ball at the end of the day. I'm just trying to do that."