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Matt Elam started 15 games at free safety last year as a rookie, but he'll likely be moving to his more natural strong safety spot this coming season. That will help replace James Ihedigbo, who started every game at strong safety last year.
Ihedigbo signed with the Detroit Lions this offseason in free agency. He recorded 101 tackles, three interceptions and 11 passes defensed in 2013. Now it's up to Elam to fill the whole left behind. He should do fine, but that will leave a void to fill at free safety.
The early favorite to win this battle is Darian Stewart. He's started in just 19 games over four seasons (six in 2013), and the St. Louis Rams let him go this offseason. Stewart then signed with the Ravens, who need help at free safety.
During Baltimore's organized team activities, Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com wrote that Stewart had left a good impression on the coaching staff and that he looks like the early favorite to start:
The safety has spent the last three months adjusting to the Ravens defense after spending the first four years of his career in St. Louis, and he now looks like the favorite to start alongside Matt Elam on the back end of the defense.
Stewart has impressed the coaching staff through the early part of the offseason, and he's developing a strong rapport next to Elam.
Stewart's biggest challenger will likely be third-round pick Terrence Brooks. A rookie out of Florida State, Brooks played both free safety and strong safety during his time in Tallahassee. In 2013, he started 13 games (five at free safety) and recorded 56 tackles and two interceptions. However, Brooks did not see time with the first or second teams during OTAs, according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley:
Brooks hasn't seen time with the first or second teams this offseason, and Darian Stewart has taken most of the reps at free safety. When the Ravens signed Stewart in free agency, he was considered a fallback option. He had six starts last season for the St. Louis Rams. Now, it looks as if free safety is Stewart's job to lose.
Predicted Winner: Darian Stewart
The Ravens appear ready to go with the veteran Stewart over the rookie Brooks. Still, this will be one of the fiercest training camp battles.