When Terrence Brooks went down with a torn ACL and MCL late last year, the knee injury not only ended his season, but put his 2015 season in question,as well. Some players take 10-12 months to recover from a serious knee injury like the one he suffered.
But the former third-round pick made rapid strides during his rehab process.
He returned to the practice field midway through training camp, and he made his preseason debut Saturday against Washington.
"You've been out of the game so long that it's kind of a surreal feeling," Brooks said. "For the most part, it went well for me. It was pretty much just getting out there, seing where my confidence level is at. And it was pretty good."
Brooks didn't show any noticeable hesitation playing his first game in more than eight months. He put himself in good position around the football and threw himself into the pile on a few occasions.
Brooks finished the game with three tackles in his 35 snaps. The biggest blemish on his night was getting a little too aggressive when he had a shot at quarterback Kirk Cousins, which drew a roughing the passer penalty.
"To tell you the truth, I was pretty calm, which was a little surprising," Brooks said. "I thought I would be a little more nervous and things like that. But I guess for being out so long, I was just ready.
"I went out there and made all of my calls right. You just have to knock off the rust with tackling. That's pretty much what this game is for and what we want to emphasize – tackling with no hesitation."
Getting back on the football field so quickly is already impressive, but Brooks emphasized he still has more recovery ahead. His knee feels fully healthy, but he still has to get used to playing football the game speed.
"I feel like I still have work to do," he said. "I still have to work on my burst of speed and things like, and just the little things in my game that I have to clean up after being out so long."
While Brooks has been injured, the Ravens safety corps has gone through some big changes. The team brought in veteran Kendrick Lewis and reached a contract extension with Will Hill. They also lost Matt Elam to a torn biceps that could sideline him the entire season.
Lewis and Hill will enter this year as the clear-cut starters on the back end of the defense, but the Ravens also have high hopes for Brooks.
He showed promise during his 11 games as a rookie, and he knows as well as anyone he's just one play away from finding himself back in the starting lineup.
"I know that at any time someone could go down and I'll be needed," he said. "At this point, there's a lot on my plate. I have to focus on continuing my rehab, getting my knee better, and also mentally in case someone does go down."
View all the best photos from the Ravens vs. Redskins preseason match-up at M&T Bank Stadium.