When asked about playing against Joe Flacco on Sunday, Kyle Hamilton offered perspective on how young he is.
“I know he’s played here, obviously,” said the first-round safety who will make his regular-season debut for the Ravens. “When they won the Super Bowl in 2012, I was 11 years old. That was a long time ago. I was actually 10 years old, 11 years old. That’s all I remember.
Maybe it’s not as emotional for me as it is for some guys on this team like Tuck (Justin Tucker) and Josh Bynes. But we have a great game plan for him. I understand that he is very talented. We’ll just try to give him different things and execute.”
Seeing Flacco in a Jets uniform won’t bother Hamilton, but anticipating his first NFL game is giving him butterflies. As the first safety taken in this year’s draft (14th overall), Hamilton’s versatility is an X-factor for Baltimore’s defense this season, as it remains to be seen how many snaps he will play and how he will be used on defense. Coordinator Mike McDonald plans.
Veteran safety Chuck Clark had the strongest training camp of his career and joins free agent acquisition Marcus Williams as the starting safeties on the depth chart. But Hamilton gives the Ravens the option to use a more three-safety look, an excellent player with the potential to be a dynamic player.
Hamilton played several roles on Notre Dame’s defense – a tight safety who could run a torpedo, a rangy pass defender who could shadow tight ends and big wide receivers, a centerfielder who moved sideways to break up passes.
Hamilton has experienced ups and downs since reporting for rookie minicamp, but that’s part of the learning process. Heading into Week 1, he’s feeling more comfortable in McDonald’s system.
“It’s been slowing down for me lately,” Hamilton said. “At the beginning of rookie minicamp, I remember (head) coach (John) Harbaugh saying something along the lines of ‘the days are long but the years are short.’ It has. It’s come so fast and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The Ravens wouldn’t tip off their game plan for Sunday, but Harbaugh confirmed earlier in the preseason that Hamilton has already learned enough to use in multiple ways.
“He’s going to be very versatile,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to play a lot of different places.”
NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt predicted Hamilton would win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Williams has more experience than Hamilton, but he’s also in his first season as a key part of Baltimore’s secondary. Williams can relate to what Hamilton is going through, coming to a new team and trying to play fast without thinking too much. Williams and Clark are helping Hamilton and can see his progress.
“He’s doing a great job,” Williams said. “He puts in a lot of work in the film room, he comes out here, he competes. He does all the things you want him to do from the outside. He’s not playing like a rookie right now, he’s playing like he’s been here and doing it. That, and that’s very impressive. is.”
Hamilton said Clark’s secondary leadership has also helped his comfort level. Flacco is a veteran quarterback who knows how to take advantage of coverage mistakes, but Hamilton is confident the secondary will be on the same page.
“I think we’re a defense that communicates at all three levels, 11 guys playing as one,” Hamilton said. “It starts with everyone communicating on the same page. Chuck starts it, the green dot. Everyone gets the call and relays it, then we just go play fast, play hard. We grind a lot during the week and figure out the game plan. Once we get the call Come and realize what’s in front of you, you just play football.
There are moments off the field when Hamilton still thinks about being a rookie. He noticed when his nameplate was placed on his locker at the Under Armor Performance Center, another sign that he was indeed a Raven. But on Sunday, he hopes to play like a seasoned, savvy enough player to make some of the plays that could win Baltimore.
“Everybody’s saying it’s a big game, the first NFL game, but the field is still 100 yards, still 53 yards wide,” Hamilton said. “It’s the culmination of all the football I’ve ever played. I’m actually in the NFL and it feels like I was just playing Little League.
“Playing the Jets on Sunday, 9-11, which is a very important day in our country, is going to be an exciting opportunity. I’m ready to go.”