When quarterback Joe Flacco lined up for his first practice of training camp, he had a new face staring at him from across the line of scrimmage.
Rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was stationed in the middle of the defense, and Flacco immediately noticed the instincts of the first-round pick.
"He is a natural, man – looks like he covers ground out there really well," Flacco said after seeing Mosley in action.
Flacco's reaction to Mosley jives with overall impressions of the No. 17 pick of this year's draft. Teammates and coaches have raved about the Alabama linebacker since his arrival in May, and defensive leader Terrell Suggs praised Mosley for his athleticism and understanding of the game.
"[He's] very lean, very quick," Suggs said. "Just from the little bit I caught in minicamp, he can catch on really fast. He caught on to the defense really fast. His attention to detail is very intriguing."
Mosley's ability to quickly absorb an NFL system has impressed the Ravens since they drafted him. He played in a complex, pro-style defense at Alabama, and that experience has already been evident.
"It took me two years, three years, to really feel like I got the grasp of NFL football, and it looks like C.J. is not going to have a problem with that," Suggs said.
Mastering the defense is the first step for Mosley, who has all the physical tools to be a difference maker. Mosley told reporters when he arrived for training camp that he's already starting to play the game naturally rather than thinking too much about where he needs to be on the field.
"I'd say at the beginning I was thinking about things," Mosley said. "But now it's just all about instincts, and the more you know, the better you're going to be and the more plays you're going to make. Right now, I'm just out there playing football."
Mosley's rapid progress over the next several weeks of training camp is critical, as he's in the midst of competition for a starting job. Mosley is competing with second-year linebacker Arthur Brown, who was a second-round pick last season.
Both players have taken snaps with the first-team defense, and the competition is expected to last throughout the summer.
"I've really been pleased with [Mosley's] progress," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "He's really come along mentally. I think he knows what to do, he's a very fluid athlete, and so there's great competition in there at inside backer."