When the Ravens drafted speedy, hard-hitting safety Terrence Brooks out of Florida State in the third round, pundits and fans immediately penciled him into the starting lineup.
After all, Baltimore had a need there and Brooks is an exciting prospect.
But safety isn't a position that's easy for rookies to immediately step into.
Brooks has spent most of his training camp running with the second- and third-team defenses, leading to questions about how much impact Brooks would have during his rookie season.
The joint practices with the 49ers may have been a turning point, however. Brooks feels like he had his best three days of practice and got his first action with the starting defense. And he got it mostly at a different position – cornerback.
"Terrence Brooks is coming on," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.
"He's doing great. He's learning fast. Safeties have a long way to go as rookies, but he's doing a good job. He's going to play a lot this year, no doubt."
With Asa Jackson sidelined by an ankle injury and Lardarius Webb still out due to his back, Brooks has worked as the third cornerback, leaving safeties Matt Elam and Darian Stewart still on the field. The position suits Brooks just fine. He was a cornerback before he converted to safety at Florida State.
Ravens Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said Brooks is "an option" at nickel cornerback.
"Everybody's an option right now," Pees said. "We're just trying to find guys. We're kind of moving guys around a little bit. We have two more games, really, to kind of experiment with where we want to put guys and see where they fit getting ready for the season.
"Terrence is playing well; he's playing hard. He's a multi-position guy like all of our guys really are. It's a possibility."
Brooks is listed at No. 3 on the Ravens' depth chart at free safety, following Stewart and veteran Jeromy Miles, who excelled on special teams last season. That's fine with Brooks – for now.
"You've got to work your way up; nothing is given," he said. "I don't like being given stuff. You've got to earn it."
Brooks has made progress by learning the Ravens' system. He said he was thinking too much in previous weeks, and can react quicker now. That's common with every rookie, but makes a huge difference at safety.
"I think he's finally settling down and understanding," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "Coaches have helped him out a lot. It's difficult to learn everything at safety especially. He's making strides, he's making plays, he's coming up. He's a physical guy and he's been showing that the last few practices. I think sky's the limit for that guy."
Brooks said he wasn't very comfortable heading into the Ravens' first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, but expects to be much more at ease this Saturday in Dallas.
Brooks feels that he could have made a few plays, and possible interceptions, had he been allowed to fully hit during practice with the 49ers.
"I played really fast out there, and that's what I pride myself on," Brooks said. "Once I learned all that stuff and got it down, it was so much easier. I've just got to make plays. As I make plays, I'm going to move up [the depth chart]."