The best Ravens defenses have always had a Swiss-Army knife kind of defender.
Safety Chuck Clark appears to be ready to step into that role this year in the Ravens secondary.
The 2017 sixth-round pick has gone from being a key cog on special teams to defensive backup to perhaps a pivotal role player in just a year.
“Chuck has been one of the standouts of the spring,” Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said during minicamp.
Clark lined up all over the Ravens defense during 11-on-11 practice work. He played some as a dime package linebacker, matched up outside against wide receivers and roved the back as a true safety.
It’s similar to the way Baltimore has used veteran defensive back Anthony Levine, who has been sidelined by a foot injury this offseason.
“It’s [Clark’s] second year in the package, he’s rolling with it, and he’s communicating,” Martindale said. “We can play Chuck anywhere. So you’re just going to continue to see his role expand.”
Clark played in 15 of the 16 regular-season games last year and made 13 tackles and broke up two passes. His finest game came in the Week 17 finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, where he made three tackles and defensed one pass.
The Ravens’ level of trust in Clark showed down the stretch. He was on the field for the Bengals’ fourth-and-12 touchdown (on the other side of the field).
Because of that game experience, Clark says the game has slowed down for him in Year 2.
“I got my feet wet. Now I have to keep the ball rolling and go out there and make plays,” he said. “The main one is being comfortable, catching up to the speed of the game and having confidence when you go out there.”
Clark also has a couple of great mentors in veteran safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. The Ravens don’t need Clark to take over as a starter yet, but they want him to be ready for the future.
“Their help is major. They see things that you probably wouldn’t see,” Clark said. “They’ve had more reps and years at it. Sometimes I see things, but I’ll see it from their perspective and see it a whole different way.”