Jeromy Miles has waited for an opportunity like this.
The veteran safety has bounced between Baltimore and Cincinnati throughout his five years in the NFL, but has never played as much in one game as he did Sunday against the Chargers. As the Ravens continue to tweak the back end of their defense, Miles had his chance to start and played all but two defensive snaps.
"This is one of those things where you have an opportunity, and you know that the window of opportunity is so small," Miles said. "Now I'm at a part of my career where I'm ready. I tell [John Harbaugh] all the time, 'I'm ready. And I can show you better than I can tell you.'"
He was a bright spot in a frustrating 34-33 loss, finishing with three tackles and a fumble recovery. He didn't get beat deep to make any glaring errors, and he was the teams' second-highest rated defender by Pro Football Focus.
"Jeromy Miles played really well," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought he went out there and really did a good job."
The back end of the defense has been a carousel for the Ravens this year, as four different players have been given a chance to start at safety. Will Hill has taken over the starting free safety job, and Miles made his case to see more playing time at strong safety.
"They've always said when somebody gets their opportunity and runs with it, then that will be the people that are in there permanently," Miles said. "It has pretty much been a revolving door, and we're just trying to find the right combination back there at safety that will eliminate the explosive plays."
Inserting Miles into the starting lineup cut into playing time for Darian Stewart, who had been the starter for the first 12 games of the season. Stewart saw just three defensive snaps against the Chargers. Matt Elam began the year as the starting strong safety, but lately the Ravens have used him more in as the slot defender playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
Harbaugh didn't make a commitment to Miles staying in the starting lineup long-term, but the safety hopes he showed enough to warrant more playing time.
"I displayed some things out there, everybody got a chance to see what I can bring to the table, and hopefully it's something that everybody feels comfortable with," he said.
Miles (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) and Hill (6-1, 207) give the Ravens a pair of big defenders on the back of their defense. They are two of the team's biggest defensive backs, which gives the Ravens some versatility in having them defend the run and pass.
"We're both bigger, athletic type of guys that can cover a lot of the field," Miles said. "I think the sky is the limit."
Regardless of who gets the playing time at safety, a focus heading into Sunday's game against Miami is for the secondary to play better as a whole. The group allowed Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to pass for 383 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winning score.
The Ravens know they have to cut down on that kind of production to make a run at a playoff spot in the final quarter of the season.
"You have to evaluate your mistakes, and the things that you can work on. We shouldn't be making the same mistakes at this point of the season," Miles said. "The table is still wide open, and all you have to do is trust and believe."