Chuck Clark had not played more than three defensive snaps in a game this season until the Ravens’ 44-20 victory over the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium, in which he lined up for 10 snaps as a linebacker in the defense’s dime package.
That might seem an unusual assignment for a rookie who was selected in the sixth round of April’s NFL draft as a safety, but Clark said he welcomed the role.
“I felt pretty comfortable,” he said after Thursday’s practice. “In college [at Virginia Tech], I moved around to different spots on the field. So I was just being on the field and playing ball and making plays.”
Clark, who finished with one tackle Sunday, said he knew that playing linebacker was a possibility.
“You’ve just got to be ready — for the dime linebacker spot or the safety spot,” he said. “You just have to know your position and know the plays so that when your number is called, just go in and get job done.”
While Clark, 22, is behind starters Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson and backups Lardarius Webb and Anthony Levine Sr. on the safety depth chart, he has emerged as a resource on special teams, where he is tied for third on the team in tackles with five. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees did not dispute a suggestion that Clark’s workload could be expanded.
“He’s done a really good job for us,” Pees said. “He’s always kind of been there. He’s been such a valuable guy to [special teams coordinator] Jerry [Rosburg] on special teams, but he really is a very, very intelligent football player and a very good football player. Yeah, I could see his role growing. Like I say, the more guys you can play and the more guys you can get in the game, the more into the game they are and the more into the game plan they are, and that helps you.”
Pees’ endorsement might embolden any first-year player, but Clark took the comments in stride.
“In the back of my mind, I know that’s motivation for me to go out there and work and earn a spot on the defense,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to keep my head down and keep working.”