As the Ravens await word on the severity of Matt Elam’s biceps injury, the offseason acquisition of safety Kendrick Lewis looks even more important.
Lewis is expected to start at free safety, and now Will Hill looks even more likely to start at strong safety. Elam, who opened training camp competing with Hill, will undergo an MRI on Sunday and could be lost for the season or for a significant period, according to the Baltimore Sun. Elam suffered his biceps injury during Saturday’s practice.
If Lewis and Hill emerge as the starting safety tandem, Lewis will be relied upon for leadership in the secondary. Lewis has five years of NFL experience with the Chiefs and Texans, and he has 66 career starts. Lewis signed a three-year contract with the Ravens in March – an acquisition that largely flew under the radar during free agency. However, Lewis already looks at home in the Ravens secondary, calling out coverage and directing teammates into the right position.
“He’s just very definitive,” said defensive coordinator Dean Pees of Lewis. “He’s not wishy-washy. Boom, I make the call, we play it, I like that. That’s what you want back there. You want guys to make decisions, make the call, get everybody lined up, and let’s go. When there’s indecisiveness, especially if you see guys looking around for a call or something like that, that’s not good on defense. So, I really like the way he’s playing right now.”
The Ravens opened last season with Darian Stewart starting at free safety, but he was a disappointment and was not re-signed. Elam also struggled last season at strong safety, and Pees tried many different safety combinations, looking for a consistent duo.
Asked if he would rather rotate safeties, or have a set tandem, Pees quickly said, “I’d like to have two guys. We rotated because we had to rotate.”
With Elam injured, and second-year safety Terrence Brooks (knee) on the PUP list, it looks like Lewis and Hill will be the safeties relied on most heavily.