OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The biggest challenge for many rookies is adjusting to the speed of the NFL. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, on the other hand, believes he can speed up his game in training camp.
That's why the Baltimore Ravens' first-round pick has circled Saturday on his schedule. It's the first day of full-contact practices in this year's camp.
“One thing that I always had going into wherever I played at was just me being fast to the ball and making plays in the passing game or running sideline-to-sideline making tackles," Mosley said. "One of the good things when I get in pads, I don’t have to be as slow as I’ve been just in shoulder pads, or just in our shells where you can’t really go as fast or fit up on blockers, things like that. So when we get pads on, it’ll kind of just be free football. You have to execute your plays; at the end of the day you have to be athletic and make your plays. So I feel like when we get in pads, I’ll be able to do that.”
Mosley is coming off an impressive offseason. He has shown good instincts, leaping ability and a strong grasp of the defense.
This is why he was running with the starters in the final practices of the offseason last month. Ravens coach John Harbaugh, though, isn't ready to hand over the starting job to Mosley just yet.
"He’s in a fight now for playing time, and he has a lot to learn," Harbaugh said. "He’s just beginning, so we’ll see where it goes. It’s going to be fun to see. [After] the first week we’ll know a lot more about these guys."
The Ravens already know about Mosley's pedigree. It led them to selecting him with the 17th overall pick in this year's draft.
Mosley won the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker in 2013 and was the SEC defensive player of the year. He finished as Alabama's leading tackler for a second consecutive season.
"He is a natural, man," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He looks like he covers ground out there really well. It’ll be interesting, once we get the pads on, to see some of the running backs and [Mosley] and some of our other guys go toe to toe a little bit."
The inside linebacker spot beside Daryl Smith became open this offseason when Jameel McClain, a four-year starter, wasn't re-signed and Rolando McClain flopped in his workout with the Ravens. Mosley will have to hold off Arthur Brown, a second-round pick from a year ago, to become only the third rookie draft pick since 2007 (safety Matt Elam and linebacker Courtney Upshaw were the others) to start a majority of the games.
"The competition is going to start as soon as we get our pads on," Mosley said. "So, I’m just ready to get in pads and show these coaches that they picked me for a reason.”