Baltimore Ravens

Ravens rookie Matt Elam encouraged by NFL debut

Although Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam has yet to unseat veteran James Ihedigbo for the starting strong safety job, the first-round draft pick had an encouraging NFL debut.

Elam recorded two tackles during a 44-16 preseason victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium.


That included the 5-foot-10, 210-pound former University of Florida consensus All-America crushing Buccaneers running back Peyton Hillis with a low tackle, upending the 6-2, 250-pound power back.

"I'm just improving every day, continuing to learn," Elam said. "With the way I improve and the way I learn, it's giving me a lot more confidence."


Drafted 32nd overall, Elam had 176 career tackles, 24 for losses, six interceptions and two forced fumbles in three seasons for the Gators. He's signed to a four-year, $6.767 million contract that includes $5.439 million in total guaranteed money, including a $3.301 milion signing bonus.

For the native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., it was a chance to play in familiar surroundings.

"It was a great feeling to play in front of a lot of family back in Florida," Elam said. "It was very exciting, my first NFL game. Just going out to play ball again was a great feeling.

"It really doesn't matter if it's preseason or regular season. I just want to go out and get better and show the coaches what I can do. They tell me to keep on improving and doing the small things right."