Rookie safety DeShon Elliott hopes vision on the field catches Ravens' eyes

It’s not often that a safety gets to bathe in attention after a game, and Thursday night was no different. All eyes were on the starters and rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson during the Ravens’ 33-7 preseason win over the Los Angeles Rams at M&T Bank Stadium.

But during the third quarter, there was a glimpse to the future — a ball recovered during a pivotal moment of the game, protected under the body of rookie safety DeShon Elliott.

This time, it wasn’t very monumental — the Ravens were shutting the Rams out at that point. But in just two preseason games, Elliott has greased the hands of receivers, forcing a fumble and recovering one in the first and second games, respectively, both in the third quarter.

It’s an appetizer to what could be a vital main course in the Ravens defense come September.

“Playmaking, that’s what I do, that’s what I’ve always done. That’s why they brought me here,” Elliott said. “Haven’t had any interceptions yet, but they will come.”

In the third quarter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game last week, Elliott dove at the legs of Chicago Bears wide receiver Demarcus Ayers, forcing the ball to skitter away. On Thursday night, it was outside linebacker Tim Williams that batted the ball out of Rams quarterback Brandon Allen’s hands. When Williams couldn’t recover the loose ball, Elliott darted in to return possession to the Ravens.

Elliott’s fumble highlights are a combination of the rookie’s mature vision on the field and a sign of the former Texas Longhorn’s potential. In college, he was far more physical, recording 105 tackles and nine interceptions for 156 yards. He only had three forced fumbles, which all came in his senior season.

Right now, he’s catching up to the speed of NFL-level players.

“I can adjust to the speed of the game because I’m a ballplayer. It’s just getting used to the route combinations and better quarterbacks than I faced in college,” Elliott said. “The separation that you’re going to have here for where a pass is going to be thrown is a lot smaller than it was in college.”

During two days practicing with the Rams at training camp earlier this week, Elliott was clued in quickly that he couldn’t be gentle. After tussling with the offense during punting practice Tuesday, the 22-year-old safety stepped a little stiffly back to the sideline.

“I knew I was going to come out here and be more physical,” he said.

Just after the Ravens’ second touchdown in the first quarter Thursday, Elliott pooled his lessons from camp onto the field. After Justin Tucker kicked off, Elliott hunted Rams wideout JoJo Natson down to bury him at the Rams’ 22-yard line, adding a special teams tackle to his brief NFL resume. He had four tackles overall on the night.

“That’s one thing that I bring to the table. I love to hit,” he said. “I love contact. It is what it is. That’s how I was raised.”

Elliott is one of three Ravens to recover a fumble this preseason, along with Bronson Kaufusi and Patrick Ricard.

“Right now I’m just trying to learn,” he said. “Find my place. My main priority is special teams, but if they need me to play downs on the field I will, like I’m used to.”

kfominykh@baltsun.com

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