Asked about playing against Joe Flacco on Sunday, Kyle Hamilton offered perspective on just how young he is.
“I know he played here, obviously,” said the first-round safety who will make his regular-season debut for the Ravens. “I was 11 when they won the Super Bowl (in) 2012. That was a while ago. I was actually 10, turning 11. That’s pretty much all I remember.
“It probably won’t be as emotional for me as for some off these guys who were on that team like Tuck (Justin Tucker) and Josh Bynes. But we have a great game plan for him. I understand he’s very talented. We’ ll just try to give him different stuff and execute.”
Seeing Flacco in a Jets uniform won’t faze Hamilton, but anticipating his first NFL game is giving him butterflies. As the first safety (14th overall) taken in this year’s draft, Hamilton’s versatility is an X-factor for Baltimore’s defense this season, because it remains to be seen how many snaps he’ll play, and how he’ll be utilized in Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme.
Veteran safety Chuck Clark had arguably the strongest training camp of his career and join free agent acquisition Marcus Williams as the starting safeties on the depth chart. But Hamilton gives the Ravens the option of using more three-safety looks, a superb athlete with the potential to become a dynamic player.
Hamilton played multiple roles for Notre Dame’s defense – a hard-hitting safety who could torpedo running backs, a rangy pass defender who could shadow tight ends and big wide receivers, a centerfielder who roamed sideline to sideline 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 Macdonald’s system.
“It’s been slowing down for me recently,” 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.’ Looking back on it, it’s gone by super-fast. We’re already at the season, already in Week 1. It’s come pretty fast and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
The Ravens won’t tip their game plan for Sunday, but early in the preseason Harbaugh affirmed that Hamilton has already learned quickly enough to be used in multiple ways.
“He’s going to be very versatile,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going to play in a lot of different spots.”
Kyle Brandt of NFL Network predicted Hamilton will win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.