After one rookie minicamp, Baltimore Ravens first-round draft pick Matt Elam is off to a fast start with the Super Bowl champions. Elam intercepted several passes and confidently delivered the defensive signals to his teammates.
That, and the re-signing of starting offensive tackle Bryant McKinney last Thursday, made for a very upbeat mood on the team the last few days.
During the camp, which ended Sunday, Elam lined up at free safety, playing with an obvious confidence.
"It went well," Elam said. "I got better every day. I'm improving. I'm very comfortable and very smooth out there. It felt great. I'm very excited to be with the best and start working with the vets. "
A consensus All-American selection from the University of Florida, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Elam was the final pick of the first round after recording 176 tackles, 24 for losses, five sacks, six interceptions and two forced fumbles in three seasons for the Gators.
What impressed Ravens coach John Harbaugh about Elam was how he took charge in the secondary and is quickly becoming knowledgeable about the defensive scheme.
"Matt really picked things up quickly, same for (second-round inside linebacker) Arthur (Brown)," Harbaugh said. "He really did a nice job of communicating in the back end which isn't usual for a rookie. Most rookie defensive backs all defensive players have a tough time with the communication part because they're not confident enough to make the calls.
"He's smart. He picked it up quickly. He jumped back there quickly and made the calls with force. He was very forceful back there and played fast. He looked good."
The Ravens were also delighted when McKinnie opted to remain with the team last Thursday rather than sign elsewhere as a free agent.
"Having Bryant back is a big plus for us," Ravens Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. "We were hoping that would be the case. I'm looking forward to seeing him next week and getting him in here and going to work. We want our line to be as strong as it can possibly be, and that makes us stronger."
McKinnie said he never wanted to leave the Ravens anyway.
So, even as he was taking visits and garnering offers from the San Diego Chargers and the Miami Dolphins, McKinnie said he was holding out hope that the Ravens would make him an offer.
On Thursday they reached agreement with McKinnie on a two-year contract with a maximum value of $7 million, according to a source. The Ravens' contract was the best financial offer.
"I'm excited to be back," McKinnie said. "I didn't really want to leave anyway. I like being in Baltimore."
With an alignment that featured McKinnie at left tackle, Michael Oher at right tackle and Kelechi Osemele at left guard, the Ravens allowed only six sacks in four playoff victories, including their Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
The Ravens averaged 410.3 yards of total offense per game and quarterback Joe Flacco was able to throw 11 touchdown passes with no interceptions in the post season.