Matt Elam makes stupid rookie mistake

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
5:05
PM ET
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has looked like a rookie plenty of times on the field. He just made his biggest rookie blunder off of it Wednesday.

In an interview with the Associated Press and Comcast SportsNet, Elam called Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson "pretty old." Yes, it seems that Megatron has been around forever. But he's 28 years old. Elam is only six years younger.

Does anyone remember what happened to Dallas? Two months ago, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant said he was just as good a receiver as Johnson. The result: Johnson put up 329 yards receiving against the Cowboys, the second-biggest receiving game in NFL history.

In other words, don't make Megatron mad.

I'm at a loss why Elam would even say such a thing. He's wrong on both accounts. Johnson is not old and he's very physical. It's one thing to take a shot. It's another to take a shot and be so wildly off the mark. He'll likely find that out under the bright lights of "Monday Night Football." If Elam thinks Johnson is old, I can't wait to hear what he thinks of Tom Brady the following week.

The strange part is that Elam has been so reserved with reporters. But these comments certainly won't go over well with Johnson. Can you imagine the 5-foot-10 Elam trying to defend the 6-foot-5 Johnson in the open field? What about the 210-pound Elam trying to tackle the 236-pound Johnson?

This all started when a reporter brought up that Johnson is a physical receiver.

"He's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be,'' Elam said. "He's a big guy, but he's older. I guess when they get older they're not going to be as physical, you know what I'm saying? We're going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.''

This is the same Elam who has broken up just two passes this year and has yet to intercept a pass. This is the same rookie who has allowed an average of 18.5 yards per completion against him, according to Pro Football Focus.

The Ravens' first-round draft pick has been a mild disappointment because he's playing out of position (he's been playing free safety but is more of a strong safety). On Wednesday, he simply was out of line.

Elam was complimentary of Johnson, describing him as "big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak."

That's where he should have stopped. Calling Johnson "pretty old" just shows how young Elam is. And it's something he'll regret come Monday night.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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