www.baltimoresun.com/sports/ravens/ravens-insider/bal-rams-analyst-dmarco-farr-praises-darian-stewart-except-for-durability-20140322,0,5924891.story

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Rams analyst D'Marco Farr praises Darian Stewart, except for durability

New Ravens safety started six of 13 games last season while dealing with hamstring injury

By Aaron Wilson, The Baltimore Sun

12:15 PM EDT, March 23, 2014

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The pending arrival of new Ravens safety Darian Stewart comes with a scouting report.

Stewart has built a reputation as a tough guy with a lot of pop and as a tackler who excels in run support. However, Stewart isn't known for making a ton of plays in pass coverage despite his above-average speed.

"Good safety, good player," said retired former St. Louis Rams defensive tackle D'Marco Farr, an analyst for the organization's broadcasting team. "Good, smart, instinctive guy, underrated hitter. Ryan Williams, the running back for the Arizona Cardinals, he definitely knows who Darian Stewart is. He gave him one of the hardest hits I've ever seen. He ended his season. I've never seen a guy hit that hard.

"Darian's a smart player. He's how you like your players right on the edge of cocky, very  confident. He's very sure of himself. He's a safety in this league."

The knock on Stewart, who's traveling to Baltimore today to sign his one-year contract, is his lack of durability, frequently dealing with hamstring injuries.

Stewart was limited to 13 games and six starts last season as the 5-foot-11, 214-pounder recorded 36 tackles, a forced fumble and four pass deflections last year.

"The only problem with Darian is he couldn't stay healthy," Farr said. "When he was out there, he was impressive and not just a head-hunter. He took great angles to the football. He was a real good safety. If you had one wish, you wish he could have stayed healthy.The shame of it all is his body would break down on him.

"That's the frustrating part. It was all over his body. He would go out and  practice and one day it was his hamstring or knee or something. When he was hurt, Darian always looked like he was mad and wanted to be out there. He was always helping out, not just sitting on the sidelines. He was engaged."

Three years ago, Stewart had 91 tackles, his lone NFL interception returned for a touchdown against New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, three sacks and two forced fumbles.

For his career, Stewart has 147 tackles and three forced fumbles with four sacks.

Stewart has a background with Ravens secondary coach Steve Spagnuolo after making the Rams when Spagnuolo was head coach. Stewart went undrafted out of South Carolina.

"Darian going all the way back to his rookie year in preseason, he picked up the defense, and Steve has a complicated defense that takes smart guys to run it," Farr said. "If he's pulling him to Baltimore, that shows what he thinks of Darian. I remember a play where the running back was breaking away and Darian brought him down with a textbook tackle in the open field.

"We talked about that tackle with Steve on the postgame show for five minutes. Steve was impressed. That's how he got on the map and started him in the right direction. To me, that is a professional safety. That was a great tackle. That helps you win."

Where Stewart fits with the Ravens remains undetermined, but he has played both free safety and strong safety. His skill set is more suited to strong safety, which is where the Ravens would like to ideally have Matt Elam line up after he played free safety as a rookie.

"I would say he's a strong safety because he's more of a downhill type of guy," Farr said. "He's not going to throw a skirt up on contact. He will run right through you. He's a big hitter as a box safety. You just hope he gets back up and you don't lose him in a game."

Despite his lack of big plays in pass coverage, Farr said he could also envision Stewart lining up at free safety if needed.

"That's the thing with him out there you never had a concern with him covering," Farr said. "It wasn't like Justin King one-on-one with Torrey Smith and you didn't want to breathe. You didn't have that same feeling with Darian Stewart. You could play the 49ers and Vernon Davis and you never felt like it was a mismatch. From the tape that's out there, he looked good. He looked like a real, real good safety."

awilson@baltsun.com

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