Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees talks about challenges faced playing against the Oakland Raiders. (Algerina Perna, Baltimore Sun video)
The wait finally ended for Kamalei Correa.
The rookie inside linebacker made his long-awaited defensive debut in the Ravens' 19-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. After breaking up one pass in the first quarter, Correa was grateful for the opportunity to make a contribution.
"It felt good to be out there on defense again and for the coaches to actually be able to trust me out there," the second-round pick said. "It just felt like a sigh of relief. It felt good."
“We’re going to try to win the game with the guys we have," said Ravens John Harbaugh. "I think you just go out there and play the guys in whatever way you need to try to win the game and see what happens.” (Baltimore Sun video)
Correa had been relegated to special teams duty in the first two games as he backed up starters C.J. Mosley and Zachary Orr. Correa said it helped that Mosley, Orr and outside linebacker Albert McClellan continued to encourage him.
"I've got a good group of guys that I'm next to, guys like C.J. and Zach and Bert," he said. "So I feel like I'm able to play a little bit faster out there."
If there was a blemish on Sunday's outing, it was that Correa dropped what could have been an interception returned for a touchdown after stepping between Blake Bortles and his pass to tight end Julius Thomas.
"I knew you were going to bring that up," he said with a smile. "That actually was my very first defensive play that I could have had an interception for a touchdown. But that's the way the cookie crumbled. I still got a pass breakup. When I came over to the sideline, it was all love and jokes from my boys. But at the end of the day, I do need to take advantage of the opportunity and make something happen next time."
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees chuckled when asked whether he had a conversation with Correa on the sideline after his drop.
"I didn't have to. Everybody else did on the sideline," Pees said. "I had to build him back up after they got on him on the sideline. That would have been a great first play of your career, wouldn't it?"