Terrence Brooks Stepping Into Center Fielder Role


The Ravens may have a new center fielder.

Rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks seems to have stepped in for veteran Jeromy Miles in covering the deep part of the secondary, protecting against big gains.

The Florida State product saw his first defensive action of the season Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. Brooks got 34 snaps in passing situations, mostly when safety Matt Elam dropped down to play as a nickel cornerback. The Ravens employed three safeties with Elam, Brooks and Darian Stewart.

After watching film of Brooks' debut, Head Coach John Harbaugh said Brooks will see more action.

"He played well, and he merits more playing time," Harbaugh said.

The Ravens have had trouble limiting the big play (20 or more yards) so far this year. They've surrendered 16 big plays, tied for eighth-most in the league. Baltimore's secondary surrendered six big plays in Cleveland. The Ravens cut that in half to three against the Panthers.

The improvement can't be all credited to Brooks, but his presence was a welcomed addition.

Similar to virtually every rookie safety, Brooks took a little while to catch onto the defensive scheme. It's especially difficult for a rookie safety to jump onto the field quickly because there's a lot of communication needed and understanding of how everybody's job works, not just his own.

It's also challenging for a young safety to play in space. They often play closer to the line of scrimmage against spread college offenses, and the speed of the receivers, and velocity and accuracy of the quarterbacks' throws also jump at the NFL level. Angles that young safeties previously took in college don't work in the NFL.

But Brooks has gradually come along from first practicing with the third-team defense to now running with the first teamers in certain packages.

"It shows the coaches trust me," Brooks said. "I feel like I've taken a lot of steps to get on the field. It's a matter of time before I'm out there for longer."

"Without getting into too many specifics, he's a good football player," Harbaugh added. "He plays fast. It seems like he has a good sense of the ball back there."

Brooks wasn't around the ball too much (he made just two tackles), but he did nearly have a pass deflection late in the fourth quarter. Harbaugh pointed to the play when Brooks was left one-on-one in coverage on a corner route. He nearly knocked the ball away with his right hand while making the tackle with his left hand.

"Dean really loves to have a safety that can roam the field and get sideline-to-sideline. That's what I do," Brooks said.

"I feel like it went really well. We didn't give up any big plays or anything like that. We're making strides to be the best secondary. We had a rough one last week, but I think we're making strides."

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