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Rookies Matt Elam, Arthur Brown Display Big Hitting


At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, the Falcons' Steven Jackson is one of the hardest men in the NFL to bring down. 

Apparently it's not a problem for 5-foot-10, 206-pound rookie Matt Elam. 

Elam met Jackson at the end of an 11-yard first-quarter run with a vicious body slam. That was just the start of Elam's big hits. 

Elam and second-round linebacker Arthur Brown showed off their much-touted physicality in Thursday night's preseason game – their first game in their new home of M&T Bank Stadium. 

"I'm just going out there, playing my heart out like I'm supposed to," Elam said. 

Elam and Brown are both competing for starting spots in the Ravens defense. Veteran safety James Ihedigbo once again got the start at strong safety Thursday night. Brown technically got a start inside linebacker because Baltimore's defense opened in the nickel formation. 

Both got increased playing time from their first preseason game. Elam took over for Ihedigbo midway through the first quarter, playing opposite Michael Huff. Brown rotated in and out with Josh Bynes, before taking over in the second half. 

"It meant a lot to me," Elam said. "It's a great opportunity for me and a great chance for me to show the coaches what I can do with the first team." 

In addition to his big hit on Jackson, Elam made six total tackles (tied for second most on the team), including one for a loss of 6 yards on third-and-long. Brown originally sniffed out the play, an outside toss to running back Jacquizz Rodgers, which drove the elusive Falcon backwards. Elam finished him off.

Brown, who has been used primarily for his speed in passing situations, also displayed some of his physicality between the tackles. He hit Rodgers hard for a 4-yard loss in the second quarter.

"I was there at the right time and I just did what I had to do," Brown said. "That wasn't a blitz. The gap just opened so wide and the instincts came into play. I pursued and there was the ball."

Brown credited the play call from Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees for putting him in the right position. While that set him up, Brown finished the play.

Whether Brown will eventually turn into a three-down linebacker is unknown. For now, he's playing in different sub packages alongside Bynes, who is used in more run situations. Performances like Thursday, however, show Brown is developing into more.

"My goal is to play my role and do it successfully and have an impact on this team," Brown said. "Whether that's special teams, second team, first team, wherever I am, I want to be a major impact and feel my role as a teammate."

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