As the first safety taken in the 2022 NFL draft, Kyle Hamilton came to Baltimore with high expectations.
Thus far, he’s lived up to them. He earned an 87.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2022, ranking first among safeties. As a run defender and pass rusher, Hamilton has shined when closer to the line of scrimmage. PFF gave him an 87.7 run defense grade, which ranked eighth among all safeties, and Hamilton was tied for 14th at the position in registering eight total pressures.
Those run and rusher numbers graded so well because Hamilton played much of his rookie season as the nickel near the line of scrimmage after starting the year as a deep safety. This season, he’s moving to the back end and staying there.
With the Ravens trading Chuck Clark to New York, Hamilton is slotted at strong safety next to veteran Marcus Williams. The two have been making it tough on Ravens quarterbacks all week at training camp.
“Kyle’s had a great three days,” defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald said Friday. “We ask our guys back there to have production on the football, and he’s been there. The tempo right now prevents us from making plays on the ball, but in games I think you’re going to be able to see that he’s going to be able to get back there.”
Near the end of Wednesday’s practice, Hamilton registered the play of the day, ranging over to high-point and intercept a pass to Nelson Agholor in a seven-on-seven period. Thursday, it was Hamilton and the defense that won the day.
“I think you see his range during practice,” Macdonald said. “The game’s slowing down for him, for sure. He’s taken definitely a commanding presence back there making calls. [We’re] very pleased with where’s he’s at.”
Hamilton’s versatility made him an enticing player coming out of Notre Dame. With the Irish, he was used the same way, listed as a free safety even though he played most of the time in the slot. That versatility won’t go away with Hamilton playing more of a traditional safety spot. It makes the defense more creative whenever it wishes.
Here’s an overview of how Saturday will go with a look at what we’re paying attention to:
The fourth day of full-squad training camp practice starts at 12:45 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. After practice, head coach John Harbaugh will speak with reporters on the field.
ICYMI: STORIES LEADING UP TO DAY 4
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR
The weather (and water)
Friday’s camp practice was by far the hottest of the week. Temperatures in Owings Mills reached 93 degrees, with a heat index of 102. It was impossible to find anybody not drenched in sweat at practice.
Saturday, the high is expected to reach 91 degrees between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service — just near the end of practice. Camp will be at M&T Bank Stadium, where temperatures will feel even higher. The Ravens have taken precautions — slower tempo, designated water breaks, extra time for players to get their helmets off – to combat the temperatures.
Will Zay Flowers be back?
Flowers, the talk of the offseason program and first few days of camp, was surprisingly absent from Friday’s practice. While he missed time during OTAs with a “minor tweak,” there weren’t any signs of an injury problem on the field Wednesday or Thursday.
Can Keaton Mitchell carve out a role?
With the heat impacting Friday’s practice, many of the younger players on the roster got increased reps.
Undrafted free agent rookie running back Keaton Mitchell was one of them. He took advantage, breaking off a long touchdown run near the end of practice during team period.
The Ravens are practically set with four running backs for Week 1 — J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, Melvin Gordon and Justice Hill — leaving Mitchell a steep hill to climb if he wants to make the 53-man roster. If he carves out a role on special teams, that could land him on the practice squad, which may be beneficial considering the backfield’s injury history. He has an opportunity to make an impression.
“Keaton’s done a good job,” special teams coordinator Chris Morton said. “This dude can flat out run; that’s a plus. Once we get the pads on, and we start getting into a lot more team things, I’ll try to put him in places where I think it fits his game. I don’t think he’ll have a problem with carrying the ball, running the ball, doing some kick returning for us. We’re trying to develop him in that punt return aspect as well. I’m just trying to give every guy every opportunity to make this football team. As far as what he’s done so far, since this spring, he’s headed on the right track.”
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The Banner will have multiple reporters at each day of training camp practice. Follow along for updates from them. Also check out our Banner Sports X (what used to be Twitter) account, plus other Baltimore media members covering the Ravens, in our X list below: