The Ravens feel bad for safety Matt Elam, who will reportedly miss the entire 2015 season with a torn biceps.
But even though it’s early in training camp, Baltimore is already in “next man up” mode.
Baltimore went through this injury routine in the secondary just last year. The patchwork is beginning, but this time, the Ravens have more depth to sustain their first blow.
“We’re not planning on bringing anybody in at this time,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said at Monday’s practice at M&T Bank Stadium. “We think we have a lot of depth there. We have some young players that I thought stepped up tonight, so we’ll see how those guys do.”
Elam was competing for the starting strong safety position opposite Kendrick Lewis. Now, Will Hill’s grasp on that starting job just became stronger, and others waiting in the wings will have their chance, including Brynden Trawick, Anthony Levine and rookie free agent Nick Perry.
“It’s unfortunate what happened to Matt,” Hill said. “He was having a great offseason and camp thus far, but we can’t really dwell on what happened even though we’re all there for him to support him.”
The Ravens didn’t sign Hill until July 25 last year, just before training camp opened. That didn’t leave him much time to learn the defense. Then Hill had to serve a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, further setting him back.
Hill came on strong once he hit the field. He started eight of the final 10 regular-season games, made 42 tackles, four passes defensed and one interception, which he returned for a touchdown in New Orleans.
This year, he’s had a full offseason in the Ravens’ weight room and in the playbook, and he’s expecting it to make a big difference.
“I feel great, just knowing the scheme,” Hill said. “I don’t have to hurry and rush and figure it out on the fly. I get to gel with the ones and twos out there. Last year, I had to come in and learn quick, quick, quick. Now I’ve had a whole offseason of learning the plays.”
Hill was already going to see a lot of snaps before Elam’s injury. Now, the other voided snaps could fall to Trawick, Levine or Perry. The group made a strong sales pitch during Monday’s stadium training camp practice.
Trawick, a third-year safety and former undrafted rookie out of Troy, picked off a pair of passes and had another pass deflection. He undercut one route on a pass from Joe Flacco. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Trawick has also shown flashes of physicality now that the pads have come on.
“I’m comfortable,” Trawick said. “I haven’t gotten many plays on defense [in my first two years], but I’m comfortable with whatever I’m doing, whether it’s defense or special teams. It slows down from Year 1 to Year 2, and now I’m on my third year and I’m looking to capitalize on my opportunities.”
Trawick has mainly made his living on special teams during his first two seasons. Last year, he played in 14 games and made seven tackles. Other former Ravens safeties have made their way to prominent defensive snaps via special teams, including James Ihedigbo and Jeromy Miles.
“He’s been having a great camp, period,” Hill said of Trawick. “He could have had two picks yesterday and we were digging on him. He could have had three today. All he’s got to do is take that one more step and capitalize on opportunities he’s been given.”
Harbaugh said Trawick has played well and Levine has had a “really good camp.” He said Perry, who also had an interception on a Matt Schaub bomb launched into triple coverage, has done a nice job.
Trawick and Levine also both have position flexibility. Levine can double as a cornerback in a pinch, which he did as a starter for three games last year, and Trawick is playing some coverage outside linebacker when the opponent brings out four receivers.
The Ravens also have last year’s third-round pick Terrence Brooks, who is recovering from a season-ending knee injury and is currently on the active physically unable to perform list after participating in OTAs and minicamp.
“We like our guys,” Harbaugh said.
More than 22,000 fans attended the open practice to get a glimpse of their favorite players.