Matt Elam may not have started in Thursday's preseason opener, but he did make his presence felt when he got on the field in Thursday's 44-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Ravens' first-round pick played most of the second and third quarter after taking over for veteran James Ihedigbo, and he came up with a few big hits in the second half.
"I feel like I did my job," Elam said. "I executed well. I made a few tackles. I feel like I played well."
Elam finished the day with two tackles. One of those tackles came on a play where Elam delivered a big hit to Buccaneers bruising running back Peyton Hillis. Elam (5-foot-10, 210 pounds) didn't back down from the much bigger Hills (6-2, 250), and squared up the running back to make the tackle and bring him to the ground.
Elam's other tackle came later in the third quarter where he put a lick on running back Michael Smith.
"I just took it as another game and a chance to come out and show the coaches what I can do," Elam said.
The No. 32 overall pick has drawn positive reviews during training camp, and he's competing with Ihedigbo for a starting job alongside Michael Huff. The Ravens* *gave the veteran the starting nod Thursday, but Elam came into the game in the second quarter and had a chance to work with most of the first-team defense.
Elam ran one series with Huff next to him and then also had another series with him and Ihedigbo. All three players have the versatility to play either strong or free safety, so the Ravens want to see them in a variety of roles during the preseason.
In addition to Elam dealing with the emotion of his first NFL game, the All-American from the University of Florida was also back home playing in front of family and friends. The homecoming was special for Elam, who tried to keep himself from getting too caught up in the excitement.
"I was very excited to be back at home playing in front of my family," he said. "But as far as my emotions I tried to just take it as another game."