Kyle Hamilton was the first safety selected in the 2022 draft, and many NFL scouts predicted he would become a star.
After a rocky start to his rookie season, Hamilton played his best football in November, December and January, blossoming as a versatile safety who matched up with slot receivers, defended the run, and roamed the secondary as a reliable pass defender.
Hamilton will be a full-time starter in Year 2, paired with Marcus Williams to give Baltimore an extremely athletic duo at safety. Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Chris Hewitt expects the stardom that many predicted for Hamilton to materialize.
"He's ahead of the plays this year," Hewitt said. "He's ahead of the formations, down and distance. We'll see big things from Kyle. I expect this guy to be a Pro Bowl-type player."
Williams is also looking for special things from Hamilton.
"He's continuing to get better in the film room, out on the field, getting more comfortable, playing together, side by side," Williams said. "As long as he continues to focus, lock in and come out here and do all he can to work, I think he's going to be great."
Hamilton is having a strong training camp and not letting the praise diminish his work ethic. But he's not shying from the expectations.
"That's the goal – Pro Bowl, Super Bowl, all that," Hamilton said. "I feel like I'm at a Pro Bowl practice every day, you look around, there's guys everywhere. I have high expectations for myself, for the team and feel like we can make all of them come true."
Rock Ya-Sin Has a 'Bit of a Learning Curve' in Ravens' Multiple Defense
The Ravens signed veteran corner Rock Ya-Sin during free agency with the expectation that he would be a starter opposite Pro Bowl corner Marlon Humphrey. After starting for the Raiders last season, Ya-Sin is learning a new system and Hewitt has been impressed with Ya-Sin's aggressiveness.
"My thing is, I want physical corners, and that's what Rock is – he's a physical corner," Hewitt said. "He's been a Cover 3, Cover 2 type corner. He hasn't played too much man and all the multiple coverages we play, so there's a little bit of a learning curve for him right now."
Hewitt didn't close the door on Ya-Sin being challenged for a starting role.
"We have Marlon, he's solidified himself as one of the corners and then we've got Rock, right now he's got the nod, but Jalyn Armour-Davis, he's pushing him as well," Hewitt said. "It's going to be a competition throughout the whole training camp. We'll find out who comes out of there."
A Variety of Players Could See Reps at Nickel Cornerback
Armour-Davis and Pepe Williams are back on the practice field after missing time earlier in the offseason, which has deepened the competition to emerge as the nickel corner. The Ravens have plenty of options that also include Brandon Stephens, Ar'Darius Washington, Arthur Maulet, and Kyu Kelly, while Hamilton can also play slot corner and Marlon Humphrey can always kick inside.
Hewitt said the Ravens may decide to rotate different players into the nickel corner spot depending upon matchups.
"It doesn't have to be one guy," Hewitt said. "As you've seen last year we had Kyle playing the nickel position. We have a lot of guys who we can use. … Right now, it's a competition."
Stephens got a lot of reps in the nickel cornerback spot in the first week of training camp, but he was playing off the line of scrimmage at safety on Wednesday.
"Brandon's a guy – he's a utility knife," Hewitt said. "Brandon's played pretty much every position in the back end. He's played corner, he's played nickel, he's played dime, and he's played safety. We'll continue to use him in that aspect to try and get him on the field – [using] matchups. Our thing here is we use guys that are interchangeable parts. Wherever we see fit that we get the best matchup with them, that's where we'll put them."
Ravens Follow Plan to Divide Reps Among Left Guards
The competition for the starting job at left guard remains unsettled even though rookie Sala Aumavae-Laulu has taken the first-team reps since minicamp.
John Simpson, Ben Cleveland and Daniel Faalele are all in the mix. It's still early in training camp and Head Coach John Harbaugh plans to give them all opportunities to work with the starting unit.
"We'll flip some guys in different reps, and then another day or two it may change a little bit and we'll try some guys in some different spots," Harbaugh said. "That will probably go on for a minimum of a week, [maybe] more, and then we'll kind of work from there."