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Matt Elam having 'best camp' of his career, Dean Pees says

"I expect big things out of Matt [Elam], I really do," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "I know there are some critics out there, but I’m just telling you, I think No. 26 is going to be a good football player." (Kevin Richardson)

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has third-year safety Matt Elam back at his natural position after he was forced to deploy the 2013 first-round NFL draft pick as a slot cornerback for the Ravens' injury-hit secondary this past season.

Elam seems to have taken to his transition well. With plenty of healthy cornerbacks in camp this summer, Elam is in line to contribute at safety after what Pees called a "great camp."

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"Best camp he's had, bar-none, not even close," Pees said Monday at the start of the third set of organized team activities. "I expect big things out of Matt, I really do. I know there's some critics out there, but I'm just telling you I think 26 is going to be a good football player."

Elam has rotated through the first team at safety with free-agent signing Kendrick Lewis, returning starter Will Hill, and at times, second-year safety Terrence Brooks, who is recovering from a torn MCL and ACL.

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A strong camp could go a long way toward a productive season for Elam. As a rookie in 2013, he started early, out of necessity, and had 77 tackles. A year later, he was shifted around the defense after a trying training camp.

Pees said he's seen improvement from Elam "communication-wise, just running to the ball-wise, and every aspect" of his game. Their one concern with Elam, who missed a team-high 16 tackles last season according to ProFootballFocus.com, can't be examined in the no-pads OTA setting.

"The thing that we can't tell right now is tackling from anybody, so it wouldn't be just him, it'd be anybody," Pees said. "You don't know that. But as far as just communication, knowing the defense, being in the right spot, doing all those things — best camp he's had."

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