Rookies in the NFL often talk about trying to slow the game down as they transition from college to the pros. For Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa, the first four days of training camp seem to be moving at a comfortable speed.
"You've got to be on your game every single play and if you're not, you're going to get hit upside your head," Correa, who was drafted in the second round, said after practice Sunday in Owings Mills. "You've just got to be ready to play."
Apparently, the Ravens believe the former Boise State star is ready to compete for playing time, and perhaps a starting job. Correa is sharing time with third-year player Zach Orr at inside linebacker.
Correa admits he's surprised to have moved up the depth chart so quickly, but the combination of his size (6-3, 250 pounds) strength and explosiveness has made him the likely heir apparent to Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil as a pass rusher off the edge.
"As a rookie, with my mindset, I'm coming in here, I'm not trying to overstep any veteran. I'm just trying to do my job as best I can and if these coaches feel like I am ready to run with the 1's, I'm going to do what they say. I'm trying to keep a job."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh is not trying to pidgeonhole Correa as either an inside or outside linebacker. The defense might need him in both spots.
"He's a football player," Harbaugh said Sunday.
Some projected Correa to be a first-round pick after a three-year, 40-game career that included 20 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss. There was a bit of a surprise when Correa fell all the way to 42nd overall.
Correa said he has been helped in the transition to the NFL by C.J. Mosley, who, as a rookie in 2014, was named second-team All-Pro and has made 250 tackles in his first two seasons.
"I used to watch him in college [at Alabama] and I was like, 'That guy is good,'" Correa said. "He's been very patient with me because I've been running with the [first team] right now. He's just an all-around good dude, and he's a damn good football player. I'm trying to model my game after him."