Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh talks about what needs to happen for safety Matt Elam and wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. to return. (Baltimore Sun video)
The Ravens haven't made it official – they have until 4 p.m. Saturday to do so – but safety Matt Elam sure sounded like a player preparing to make his 2016 regular-season debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It's a blessing, man. I can't wait," Elam said while seated in front of his locker after Friday's practice. "To come back [with] the first game against the Steelers, it's very exciting. I'm so excited to get back out there and happy to get back out there if I get a chance."
Elam, the team's 2013 first-round pick, hasn't played in a game since the 2014 divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots. He spent the entire 2015 season on injured reserve after tearing his biceps early in training camp. He had a strong start to training camp this year, but he hurt his knee in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and the injury required surgeryx.
The Ravens put him on I.R., keeping the door open for him to return later this year. He's practiced the past two weeks and Ravens coach John Harbaugh Friday declared Elam "football ready and physically and mentally ready to play well in a game."
The Ravens will have to make a move Saturday to accommodate Elam's return to the 53-man roster.
"I'm going to be emotional anyway because it's a Steelers' game and it's football, period," said Elam who will likely contribute on special teams immediately while serving as a reserve defensive back. "I'm always emotional because I love this game so much. It's a great opportunity, so I'm definitely going to take advantage of it. … I'm going to have the freshest legs and it's definitely going to show."