When Matt Elam was sidelined after having knee surgery in late August, it appeared that his highly disappointing Ravens career might be over. The Ravens, though, weren’t ready to completely close the door on the safety.
They held off on putting the 2013 first-round draft pick on injured reserve until after the initial regular-season roster was set, making Elam eligible to return. On Saturday, they activated Elam from IR-designated to return, putting him in line to make his season debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To make room for Elam, the Ravens waived cornerback Robertson Daniel who played one game for the team after he was promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 22. The Ravens also announced they’ve waived tight end Nic Jacobs from the practice squad. With Crockett Gillmore (thigh) out for Sunday’s game, that means the Ravens will face the Steelers with two tight ends: starter Dennis Pitta and Darren Waller.
Elam, who started 26 games over his first two NFL seasons but was set back by poor play and injuries, hasn’t played in a game since the team’s 2014 divisional playoff loss to the New England Patriots. After practicing for two weeks, he’s expected to have a role on special teams while also serving as a reserve defensive back.
“As this week came along, I feel like I got better, the soreness got better every day. I feel like I’m definitely getting myself back and starting to feel comfortable again,” Elam said Friday. “I feel like the way I work and the way I train and the way I prepare myself, it won’t take long. I feel like I’ll go out there Sunday just like I haven’t missed [time]. I’m very excited and I’ve prepared myself well, so I’ll be out there and I’ll be ready to go.”
Elam, who was the team’s first pick after their 2012 Super Bowl-winning season, was initially viewed as the heir apparent to Ed Reed. However, the Florida standout failed to make a significant impact despite starting 15 games in his rookie season.
His struggles heightened in 2014. Coverage breakdowns and missed tackles resulted in him being benched in favor of Will Hill.
Elam tore his biceps early in training camp before the 2015 season and spent the entire year on injured reserve. He had a strong start to camp this summer, but he hurt his knee in a preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts and the injury required surgery.
The Ravens declined Elam’s fifth-year option this past offseason, meaning he’ll be a free agent after the season.