Ravens position battle: Free safety

With the Baltimore Ravens starting training camp Thursday, let's take a look at some key position battles this week.


Why there is a position battle: The job is open because the Ravens didn't re-sign James Ihedigbo, who is now with the Detroit Lions. Matt Elam, who had started at free safety last season, moved to Ihedigbo's spot at strong safety, which is Elam's natural position. This spot was never a question mark previously because Ed Reed started here from 2002 to 2012.

Early frontrunner: Darian Stewart. The free-agent addition from the St. Louis Rams took almost all of the reps with the first-team defense this offseason. Stewart isn't the prototypical free safety because he's known for being a hard hitter. The biggest issue with Stewart is his durability (he's never played 16 games in any of his four NFL seasons). What helps Stewart is his familiarity with Steve Spagnuolo, who is the Ravens' secondary coach.

Top contender: Terrence Brooks. The rookie third-round pick out of Florida State was buried on the depth chart during offseason practices. Brooks rarely ran with the second team, much less the first team. But no one should count him out. He's the fastest safety on the team and can cover a lot of ground. Brooks still has time to get back in the race.

Dark horse: Jeromy Miles. The special-teams standout saw some time with the starting defense this offseason, so it looks like the Ravens see potential in Miles, who has good size at 6-foot-2, 211 pounds. But the Cincinnati Bengals always had hopes of Miles developing on defense as well. He only started one game in three seasons with the Bengals.