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Matt Elam Is Secondary's New Vocal Leader


There's a new voice ringing in the Ravens' secondary.

It's that of safety Matt Elam, Baltimore's vocal leader in the back end.

Elam has come leaps and bounds from his rookie season, so much so that the Ravens are handing him the reins of making the calls to get everyone aligned properly.

"Matt is going to have a huge year this year – I'll say it now," cornerback Jimmy Smith said.

"He's going to be lightening back there. … He's making all the calls; he's commanding the defense. Sky is the limit for that guy."

Elam was the Ravens' first-round pick last year. Like all rookies, especially those playing the mentally-challenging safety position, he took some time to catch up.

"He was struggling this time of year last year," Ravens Secondary Coach/Assistant Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

However, Elam's skillset was impressive enough to earn the starting free safety job midway through the regular-season opener. He took over for veteran Michael Huff in Denver and never let go of the position for the rest of the year.

Elam logged an impressive 77 tackles, three pass deflections and one interception. But when it came to the communication, veteran James Ihedigbo handled business.

Now heading into his second year, Elam's making his biggest strides in the mental aspect of the game.

"Last year was more me afraid of making the wrong call," Elam said. "Now I just have more knowledge of the playbook. I'm more comfortable because I know more and understand why we're doing things."

The Ravens signed veteran Darian Stewart this offseason, but asked him to lay back and let Elam make the calls.

"I asked 'Stew' to just learn and be a new guy and let Matt come to the forefront with calls and running the show," Spagnuolo said. "Matt has done that, and he takes a lot of pride in doing it. He's doing a nice job of it right now."

Stewart, a five-year veteran, has had no qualms with Elam taking the lead.

"That's a first-round pick; he's going to be here," Stewart said. "Making sure that he has the confidence to run the show back there, I'm all for it."

Elam is in charge of making sure the other safety and cornerbacks are lined up in the right place. He also communicates with the linebackers to work out any coverage underneath. Elam has to monitor the offense's movements and call out any changes if need be.

"If he says it, it's what he says – we play what he says," cornerback Lardarius Webb said earlier this offseason. "It's just how he speaks; he speaks with confidence now, and you can just tell."

Elam confirmed what Webb has seen.

"They're listening, they respond to what I say," he said. "They're doing a good job of responding positively."

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