Ravens rookie safety Christian Thompson knows that most of the playing time he earns this season will be on special teams. That's how most rookies first make their mark in the NFL, but it will be especially true for Thompson here in Baltimore. The Ravens, who are deep in the secondary, struggled on special teams last season.
"That's going to be my main way of getting on the field," Thompson said Sunday. "I'm only a rookie. I've still got a lot to learn in this defensive scheme, so that's probably going to take me the whole season."
A few of the team's draft picks talked about how last weekend's rookie minicamp was a bit of a rough transition. Ravens coach John Harbaugh had his practice moving at a high pace Sunday, the one day that the rookie minicamp was open to media. But Thompson was upbeat about his performance over the weekend, and Harbaugh had positive things to say about the South Carolina State free safety.
"Christian did well. He's a talented guy, works hard," Harbaugh said. "He's got a lot to learn. I thought he had a really good camp."
Thompson, who transferred from Auburn to South Carolina State after his freshman season, played in 43 career collegiate games, including 20 starts. He had 141 career tackles with three interceptions, 10 passes defended and two forced fumbles. He made a career-high 66 tackles during his senior season.
With Pro Bowl free safety Ed Reed and hard-hitting strong safety Bernard Pollard in the fold, it may be difficult for Thompson to play more than a handful of snaps on defense on most Sundays. But when he does find the field, Thompson, who was getting advice from Reed in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, said he hopes to bring speed, aggressiveness and solid tackling to the Ravens defense.
"Not saying they don't already have that, but I guess I'll just be that extra piece," said Thompson, who was a fourth-round draft pick.
But those attributes will come in handy on the kickoff and punt coverage teams, an area the Ravens hope to improve this season.