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Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Wake-up caw: Ravens' dilemma at safety

By Jamison Hensley

Safety James Ihedigbo was one of the best players on the Baltimore Ravens' defense, and he may not be re-signed. The reason: he plays best when close to the line of scrimmage, which also can be said about first-round pick Matt Elam.

The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel believes a pressing need on defense is bringing in a free safety.

"Elam doesn’t have the ideal range to be that single-high safety on the majority of the snaps, but he could be a plus player in coverage if paired with the right free safety," Vensel wrote. "His nose for the football and aggressive tackling could be better utilized near the line, perhaps similarly to how the Pittsburgh Steelers use play-making strong safety Troy Polamalu. That’s why the Ravens should try to find a rangy free safety in either free agency or the draft -- the draft is more likely endeavor -- so they can move their 2013 top pick to strong safety, where he could potentially thrive.

Elam just never showed consistent ball skills, finishing with one interception and three passes defensed this season. The way he got beat deep by A.J. Green in the regular-season finale should leave a lasting impression on why they need someone who excels in coverage.

Here's the rest of your wake-up caw ...