The Baltimore Ravens swiftly moved on from Earl Thomas, thrusting third-year safety DeShon Elliott into the starting lineup with less than a month left before the 2020 season kicks off.
The talkative Elliott isn't fretting about filling big shoes on a squad with Super Bowl aspirations.
"I respect Earl and his game, but I'm not worried about Earl; I'm worried about me and what I can bring to this team for my teammates," Elliott said, via ESPN. "I know I'm going to make my plays, [and] I know we're going to strive to be great. So, whatever I have to do to do that, that's what's going to happen. Whether it's eight picks, 10 picks or no picks, whatever I need to do to help my team be great and win every game we need to win to accomplish our end goal, that's all I care about."
A former sixth-round pick in 2018 draft out of Texas, Elliott has dealt with major injuries in his first two seasons in Baltimore. He landed on injured reserve before his rookie season started after fracturing his forearm in the preseason. Last year, he lasted just six games, making six tackles and defending one pass before once again going on IR, this time with a knee injury.
The injury history hasn't slowed down the cocksure attitude Elliott brings to the field, exemplified by the "Joker" tattoo on his forearm.
"Just like the 'Joker,' you never know what's going to happen," Elliott said. "We're both going to come crazy, we're both going to come wild, [and] we're going to handle our business -- no matter what."
The Ravens don't necessarily need someone wild on the back end of their defense, but rather a sure tackler who can cover ground. Ravens passing defense coordinator Chris Hewitt noted that Elliott is ready to take over.
"He's definitely a confident young man -- sometimes too confident," Hewitt said. "But he definitely doesn't lack for confidence in any endeavor. He's just been that kind of kid. He's an energy bunny. He comes in the building and he's just ready to go. When he gets out on the field, he brings the energy to the rest of the defense. He's just one of those guys. I love the way that he plays."
Coach John Harbaugh echoed the confidence that Elliott is ready to replace Thomas.
"It's his time," Harbaugh said. "So, here we go."
Elliott's ability to stay healthy will be key for the Ravens to seamlessly replace Thomas. The former seven-time Pro Bowler wasn't a flawless fit in Baltimore last year, but the club hopes Elliott's familiarity with the defense can make up for any talent lost in the exchange.
In a stacked secondary otherwise, all eyes will be on Elliott to see if he rises to the challenge of taking over for a former All-Pro.