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Matt Elam forced big fumble against Colts; Harbaugh sees progress

The Baltimore Sun

With a powerful tug, Ravens strong safety Matt Elam ripped the ball out of the hands of Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw in the final minutes of Sunday's game.

The fumble was recovered at the Ravens' 11-yard line by rookie free safety Terrence Brooks. Although the turnover didn't lead to a comeback win, it was a significant play.

"It was a great hustle play," Elam said. "I wasn't giving up on the game. I wanted to give the offense an opportunity to win. I'm trying to win the football game. When I pulled it, I felt it come out right away."

Drafted in the first round last year out of Florida, the former consensus All-American shifted back to his natural strong safety position this season. He's looked more comfortable there and has been a force in run support and as a blitzer, but he has had some lapses in pass coverage.

Elam has also been asked to take on additional responsibilities in pass coverage, frequently lining up at nickel back due to injuries at cornerback. Elam has 20 tackles and one pass deflection this season after registering 76 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception as a rookie free safety.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he's identified progress from Elam as he continues to learn on the job.

"He wants to be good," Harbaugh said. "He didn’t play as well as he could; that’s kind of what you’re saying. And I think he does press to be as best he can be. Matt has a lot of pride. Matt wants to be a great player. Matt feels a lot of pressure to do that, which is a good thing. He played very well in this game.

"He played very well against Pittsburgh, too, though, if you think about it. Those are the kinds of things, you get more and more good performances, and pretty soon, you stack a little bit of a history, and you become a good player. And that’s where Matt is headed.”

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