Ravens linebacker Kamalei Correa is finally at peace.
After a tumultuous rookie season, he is also growing into the type of player the Ravens envisioned as a second-round pick (42nd overall) from Boise State.
“Last year was a learning experience for me,” he said after practice Thursday. “It was just a lot to take in. I didn’t work hard enough and [the coaches] couldn’t trust to put me out there on the field.”
Correa appeared in nine games, including a start, but struggled to become an effective pass rusher. He finished with just four tackles and no sacks. He also did not perform well on special teams, which was particularly irksome to Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
After the 2016 season ended, Correa took full responsibility for not making a bigger impact. He then immersed himself into the playbook and weight room to get ready for offseason workouts.
From there, he has made some highlight reel plays that have become a source of entertainment during film study. He is playing faster, more confident and is now the favorite to win the starting job at weak-side linebacker.
“Kamalei has done really well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s had a good camp. It’s a process but he’s on schedule.”
Correa has managed several interceptions and has been effective getting into the backfield during camp. That trust factor from his coaches is growing by leaps and bounds.
Correa’s improvement goes beyond football. Without getting into specifics, Correa said his personal life is much better this year and that has helped him become a better player.
“I’m having a 1,000 times more fun than last year,” Correa said. “I’ve just been free and being myself. Being confident in me and who I am as a person. It just translates on the field.”
— Breshad Perriman missed his second straight practice because of a hamstring injury. The setback does not appear to be serious, but the Ravens don’t want to rush him back and compound the problem.
Now in his third season, Perriman is evolving into one the team’s top playmakers. He was lauded for his performance in OTAs. Perriman carried that momentum into training camp with several nice grabs and electrifying speed.
The latest injury has slowed some momentum.
However, that didn’t stop wide receivers coach Bobby Engram from praising Perriman on Thursday. Engram said Perriman has shown more discipline running routes and been more consistent catching the football.
After missing his entire rookie season with a knee injury, Perriman performed well last year, appearing in all 16 games. He finished with 33 receptions for 499 yards and three touchdowns.
Perriman’s maturity in handling adversity has been “night and day,” compared to previous years, according to Engram.
The key now is for him to take the next step and become an elite player.
— The Ravens managed to make it out of their sixth day of training camp without a serious injury to a potential starter. That spate of health was partly due to a veteran’s day off.
In all, 19 players were held out of practice on another humid day in Owings Mills.
The group of veterans given a day off included linebackers Terrell Suggs and Albert McClellan; cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith; receiver Mike Wallace; tight end Benjamin Watson; safety Lardarius Webb; and running back Danny Woodhead.
Injured players still not practicing were cornerbacks Maurice Canady (knee), rookie Marlon Humphrey (undisclosed) and Sheldon Price (unspecified); receiver Kenny Bell (hamstring); centers Ryan Jensen (ankle) and Brandon Kublanow (undisclosed).
“Nothing new to talk about,” Harbaugh responded to the inquiry.
Backup tight end Larry Donnell left practice early after injuring his finger diving for a ball. As noted, Perriman was also out.
Left tackle Ronnie Stanley was able to return after being sidelined with a leg injury the previous day.
— Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallett played much better throughout practice Thursday, finding open receivers and avoiding the turnovers that have plagued him throughout camp. Harbaugh joked after practice that he has read the criticisms of Mallett, and was hoping to finally see some praise. “He’s had some good days,” Harbaugh said.