OWINGS MILLS - Matt Elam is fast, physical and aggressive.
Anyone who saw him play at the University of Florida knows that, and those qualities have shown up during the early part of his rookie season with the Ravens.
But while he has had some positive moments since taking over as the starting free safety in Week 2, Elam's play as a whole has been largely unspectacular.
By no means does a quiet start to his career means that Elam won't develop into the impact player the Ravens were expecting to get when they took him in the first round of the draft in April. But Elam is yet to make any of those impact type plays that he consistently made at Florida and has had some costly mistakes and missed opportunities.
"I feel like I've still got a lot of work to do," Elam said. "I've got to keep improving and learning the small things. I've still got a lot to improve on."
But it's not like a quiet or rocky start is uncommon for a rookie, and Elam did make some eye-catching plays during the spring and summer.
He had an acrobatic interception of Joe Flacco during mandatory minicamp in June.
He had six tackles during Baltimore's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. One stopped the Falcons for a six-yard loss. And on another, he had a big hit on standout Falcons running back Steven Jackson.
He also had five tackles in the last preseason game versus the St. Louis Rams and forced a fumble from Rams first-round pick Tavon Austin.
He has stood out for positive reasons during the regular season at times as well.
He had good coverage on Texans Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels on a play near Baltimore's goal line in Week 3 and broke up a pass to bring up a fourth down.
He was aggressive in run support against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 and stopped Pro Bowl running back C.J. Spiller in the open field at one point to prevent a big gain and had a big hit on Bills running back Fred Jackson at another point.
He also helped to force a third-down incompletion during the third quarter, aggressively flying up as Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson tried to catch a short pass over the middle.
"I would assess that he is 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 that, other than I think he is 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, test your spacing, your discipline, and they've been testing him that, and he's held up pretty darn well."
But there have been some mistakes.
Against the Dolphins this past weekend, Elam allowed wide receiver Mike Wallace to get behind him for a 49-yard catch.
Against the Bills, he appeared to blow a coverage that left a Buffalo receiver wide open for a potential touchdown, although pressure from Terrell Suggs helped to force an incomplete pass.
Elam also appeared to be the primary person at fault on Cleveland Browns' tight end Jordan Cameron's 53-yard catch-and-run in Week 2. He left Cameron open along the sideline and then took a bad angle after Cameron made the catch that allowed Cameron to pick up an extra 20 yards.
He has also had some costly missed tackles during the last few games, including one during the Bills game that allowed Jackson to turn what could have been limited to a 5-yard gain into a 16-yard touchdown run.
But Elam, as he did at Florida, has been playing fast, has been physical and has been aggressive. The road so far has been rocky, and he hasn't had any impact- or signature-type plays yet, but he's also far from the first high draft pick to experience some growing pains.
"It's about experience when you're a young player," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during a conference call with Baltimore media this week. "It's about seeing different looks, being able to store those away in your memory bank and being able to recall those very quickly.
"It's about making sure you've got your guys lined up and the checks that you have are ready. I think [Elam] is a young player who has a bright future. It's just about experience and reps for a young player."