A knee injury Sunday cut safety Terrence Brooks' season short after just 11 games, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees on Thursday kicked himself for trying to fit the first-year safety into too many positions instead of letting him get acclimated to the NFL in just one.
"As a rookie, we moved him around a little bit," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "In retrospect, I probably would have gone back and maybe just put him in one place and just left him there, and let him soak. But we tried to kind of teach him a couple different things. I'm not sure that was the best for him. I'll take the blame for that."
Brooks, the 79th overall pick in the NFL draft who starred for the National Champion Florida State Seminoles last season, got off to a slow start in training camp, and practiced with the third-string for much of the summer before improving late in camp.
During later stages of camp, as the Ravens struggled with injuries to cornerbacks, Brooks took game and practice reps as the slot cornerback, a role that fellow safety Matt Elam ultimately assumed.
He played only on special teams for the first two weeks of the season, then was inactive against the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 before assuming a big role in the Ravens' pass defense for the ensuing five weeks. For a spell, he was the preferred free safety in passing situations.
But the first of two plays that came to define his season, when he got turned around and allowed a 53-yard completion to Cincinnati Bengals receiver Mohamed Sanu, cost him his gameday roster spot the following week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He was back for two more games on defense before his play on a 26-yard touchdown pass to New Orleans Saints wide receiver Marques Colston again cost him his spot. Brooks played only on special teams the following week against the San Diego Chargers, was inactive a week later in Miami, and returned to the Sunday active roster for just the opening kickoff vs. the Jaguars before he injured his right MCL and PCL.
Turnover at safety has defined the Ravens pass defense as much as injury and ineffective play at cornerback has this year, so Brooks' future prospects aren't necessarily dented by his injury. Nor do the low points take away from what the team hopes can be a solid piece on the back end once Brooks is healthy.
"I think he's going to be a really good football player," Pees said. "He's smart, but the game was a little different for him, and then when you're trying to learn a couple different spots, it kind of even became harder. When we had injuries, we'd move guys here, move them there. That's tough on a rookie. So I think a year from now, I think you'll see a real consistent player."