John Harbaugh says rookie Matt Elam has held up 'pretty darn well'

The Baltimore Sun

For Ravens rookie free safety Matt Elam, each game and pass targeted in his direction represents something of a new experience.

Each week, Elam faces the speed of the game, the subleties of the pass patterns and how quarterbacks attempt to bait him. Starting four of five games so far this season, he has 19 tackles, no interceptions and one pass deflection.

"I'm learning the smaller things," Elam said. "I've still got a lot to improve on, just everything, my whole game, my craft. I can keep on improving."

Elam hasn't made any big plays yet, but he hasn't yielded many, either -- with the exception of a 49-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace during a 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins and a 53-yard reception allowed to Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron when Elam slipped to the ground during his first NFL start in the second game of the season.

"I would assess that he's the starting safety right now, and he's doing a good job," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "I don't really have any grade for it other than I think he's doing well. But he can get a lot better, the mental part probably more than anything.

"You're back there and they go after you a little bit. They test you, they test your eyes, they test your spacing, your discipline. And they've been testing him that way, and he's held up pretty darn well."

Now, Elam is preparing for another test Sunday against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers' prolific passing game.

"They've got three good backs, a lot of threats outside that make great catches and their quarterback isn't afraid to make great throws," Elam said. "That's what makes them so good. They take a lot of chances and they make a lot of big plays. It's going to be a big opportunity." 

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