Going into camp, all signs point to 2nd year Safety Matt Elam sliding over to his natural Strong Safety spot while the Ravens 2014 3rd round pick, Terrence Brooks, takes over at Free Safety.
But if one of these promising Safeties is injured or struggles as a starter, the Ravens have very solid fallback options in Jeromy Miles and Darian Stewart.
Miles, 26, is going into his 2nd year in Baltimore after the Ravens claimed him off of waivers on 9/23/13, just two days after the Cincinnati Bengals put him on the waiver wire (not so fast) thinking that he would clear and would be able to bring him back when a roster spot opened up.
It’s hard to imagine why any team would think a legitimate Special Teams Ace would clear the waiver wire after he recorded a team-high 15 ST tackles in 2011 and another 13 ST tackles in 2012 (2nd on the team), but let’s just put this in the record as another golden opportunity taken advantage of by Ozzie & Co, and an even better decision to re-sign him to a one year/ 795 K deal this off-season.
After being claimed, the UMass grad made an instant impact on ST for the Ravens in 2013, tying for third on the team in ST tackles (8- With Chykie Brown and Brynden Trawick) in 12 games.
Athletic and smart with a good speed/size combination (6-2/214), Miles is also a sure and strong tackler, all on top of his ” Ace status” on ST. With James Ihedigbo’s departure to Detroit, Miles could even see the field in a ”Ihedigbo-Type” role in three-safety packages if he impresses the coaching staff this summer.
Stewart, 25, inked a 1 year/$1 Million deal with a $300 K signing bonus with the Ravens in March after spending the first four years of his career with the St. Louis Rams (2010-2013).
There has always been one major question with Stewart, and that is can he stay out of the trainer’s room?
Stewart has never been able to dress for a full 16 games in any of his four NFL seasons, and calf and multiple hamstring ailments over the past two seasons have hit him hard.
In his 2nd year with the Rams in 2011, Stewart excelled in Ken Flajole and Steve Spagnuolo’s defensive scheme, finishing his career-year ranked 3rd on the team in tackles (84), to go along with 3.0 sacks, a team-high 11 PD’s and 1 INT (His only career pick. Thrown by Drew Brees. The result? Pick Six).
In an unfortunate turn of events, back-to-back injury-plagued seasons torpedoed his long-term future in St. Louis, but reuniting with Steve Spagnuolo (Ravens Secondary coach) should motivate him enough to get back to his 2011 form.
When healthy, the 5th year Safety out of South Carolina is solid in pass coverage and can get to the QB while blitzing from the Safety position. Stewart is also versatile and can play both Safety slots, but due to being better in coverage than defending the run, he is a perfect fit behind Brooks at FS and an ideal fit in coverage packages that call for an extra center fielder.
Also, #24 could make an impact on ST after recording 18 ST tackles with the Rams over the past four seasons.
Having Stewart and Miles on the team in 2014 not only solidifies the ST Unit, it means the Ravens have stable insurance at both Safety positions, an absolute necessity over the course of the brutal 16 game regular season (and hopefully, post-season).
Furthermore, having Stewart and Miles means that the Ravens have two selfless players that are committed to one thing: Doing everything they can to help the team win and get back into the playoffs.
What’s our name?