Inside linebacker Arthur Brown has gone from being a spectator to a potential playmaker.
Brown, a second-round pick by the Baltimore Ravens a year ago, wasn't practicing at this time last year because he was recovering from sports hernia surgery. That slowed his development and led to him losing the starting job to Josh Bynes.
During this year's offseason practices, Brown has looked fast and more instinctual. He has been running with the first-team defense and has been catching the attention of the Ravens' coaching staff.
"Art Brown has improved light years from a year ago -- light years," defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. "This guy has really had a great camp. He still has a moment like all of them do, but he is so improved from a year ago."
Brown was a disappointment last season because he was expected to be more than a situational player. He never really absorbed the defense and was limited to playing on passing downs.
The 56th overall pick of last year's draft, Brown finished with 15 total tackles (three on special teams), a half sack and one forced fumble. He ended up playing 22 percent of the defensive snaps this season.
Some believed the Ravens were already giving up on Brown when they used a first-round pick on C.J. Mosley two months ago, but the Ravens envision Brown being part of the future of the defense even if he's not a starter this year.
There's a good chance Brown will back up Mosley and Daryl Smith to begin the season. Brown, though, is the eventual successor to Smith, who turned 32 two months ago.
The Ravens could have one of the fastest inside linebacker combinations with Brown and Mosley. It's just a matter of when Brown is ready to take that next step. Based on what he's done this spring, that time may come sooner than everyone thought.