Since his arrival in the NFL, rookie free safety Terrence Brooks has worked hard to learn the nuances of the Ravens' defense.
The third-round draft pick from Florida State is still thinking more than reacting, though, which has prevented him from making big plays as he still hestitates a bit too much while adjusting to to a higher level of football.
Brooks is behind veterans Darian Stewart and Jeromy Miles in the competition for the starting free safety job vacated when Matt Elam moved to strong safety.
While Brooks isn't struggling, he's not excelling yet.
"It all starts with communication," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "It’s like anybody in here. When you are familiar with something, you can do it fast. When you’re unfamiliar with something, I don’t care whether it’s writing; I don’t care what it is in this world, if you’re not familiar with it, it slows you down. And right now, sometimes he goes out there, and our safeties have to do our communication.
"I can make it easy, but I’m not, because that’s not going to help him. I can go out there and call the same easy coverage, and he lines up in the middle of the field and plays deep middle-third. But that's not what we do. We keep throwing more at him, more at him, more at him. He just has to keep swallowing it and taking it in."
Brooks is the fastest of the Ravens' primary candidates at free safety, running the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds.
Signed to a four-year, $2.871 million contract, Brooks had 56 tackles, eight for losses, one sack and two forced fumbles last season for the national champion Seminoles as he started eight games at strong safety and five at free safety. For his career, the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder had 126 tackles, five interceptions and three forced fumbles.
"It's just a learning curve," Brooks said. "For the most part, it's going good."
Pees said Brooks has the necessary work ethic. He just has to pick up the defense until it becomes like second nature.
"He’s working hard at it," Pees said. "It just does not happen overnight. I’ve been around a lot of safeties in this league. Sometimes guys that come over from other teams … all of the sudden, they’re over there playing Tampa 2 all the time, and come in here and we have 19 different coverages and all different kinds of little things [with] tweaks off of them.
"And sometimes that doesn’t come real natural, especially for a rookie. So, he’s doing fine; he’s doing great. He just has to keep developing."
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