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Ravens Safety Matt Elam: 'This Is My Last Chance'


When Matt Elam tore his biceps in a training camp practice last year, he came off the field, called his brother and shed some tears.

Elam's first two seasons were difficult. His third was lost.

Elam's career hasn't played out the way he envisioned when the Ravens selected the scrappy Florida safety with the 32nd overall pick of the 2013 Draft.

Now, three years later, the first-round pick is in danger of not seeing the end of his rookie contract.

"This is my last chance, my last go-round," Elam said.

"I've been here for three years, didn't live up to what I wanted to live up to. It's my chance to prove everybody wrong and prove it to myself. This is it, do or die, winner take all. Every day is a championship game for me."

Elam started 15 games as a rookie but didn't make many splash plays. He started the first nine games of the 2014 season before losing his starting gig to Will Hill. At times, Elam struggled in deep coverage and with tackling, particularly in the AFC divisional playoff loss in New England.

Last summer, Elam began turning the corner. Coaches and teammates raved about how much he had progressed. That is until Elam tore his biceps on Aug. 1, sending him to season-ending injured reserve.

"It was very tough because of how hard I was working in the offseason, how much time I put in, the sacrifices I made and how disciplined I became," Elam said. "I felt like I was on the rise."

Now Elam is trying to pick up where he left off, but the situation has changed.

The Ravens opted not to pick up his fifth-year contract option, meaning this is a contract year. Baltimore also signed veteran Eric Weddle and moved Lardarius Webb to safety, giving the team two penciled-in starters.

Baltimore also returns last year's starting veteran Kendrick Lewis, promising youngster Terrence Brooks and special teams ace Anthony Levine. The Ravens typically keep four to five safeties, which means Lewis, Brooks, Levine and Elam will be competing for two to three spots.

"I'll do whatever the team needs from me," Elam said. "I'll play great on special teams, I'll play in certain packages, I'll push these guys to get better every day, be a leader, be a high-energy guy. Anything I can do to make the team better, that's what I want to do."

Elam now looks back on his lost season as a positive. He said it felt almost like a redshirt year. It "humbled" him, allowed him to get his head right and rest his body. Now he feels like he's coming into this season as a much improved player and person.

"I learned a lot from the game just watching it from the sidelines," he said, citing formation adjustments, motions, plays and wide route combinations as examples.

It's still early in the summer, but Elam is once again healthy and off to a good start.

While speaking on a conference call with Ravens PSL holders, Weddle was asked to identify a young player that has impressed him so far. He pointed to Elam and Brooks.

"They're ready to take the next step and carve out a role and get on the field," Weddle said.

"They both are extremely talented, they're eager to learn, they're eager to get out there and help and be a Raven. I know both have struggled with injuries and up-and-down play, but it's exciting to see their growth."

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