Baltimore Ravens: Chuck Clark growing into leadership role

Ravens, Chuck Clark (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ravens, Chuck Clark (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens may have a problem at the other safety spot, but they have nothing but promise with Chuck Clark:

The Baltimore Ravens kicked off ramp-up period practices this week, and If you haven’t heard, Ravens safeties Chuck Clark and Earl Thomas were involved in one of the many fracases (freacus? fraci?) at ramp-up practices this week.

The most notable headline from the incident was that Thomas was sent home, and his status with the club is not necessarily secure. After famously getting manhandled by Derrick Henry in the Divisional Round last winter, failing to learn the full playbook in time, and at times being known to freelance, taking a swing at Clark this week is just the latest in a string of many negative headlines surrounding the former All-Pro since he has joined the Ravens. But amidst a situation that will be worth monitoring, a more positive narrative also emerged from the altercation, and that centers around Clark.

After a breakout season in 2019, the former sixth-round pick has seen his arrow pointing up all offseason. He was signed to a three-year, $19-million extension in February, and was pointed to by many as sufficient reason to not move major trade capital to go and get now-Seahawks safety Jamal Adams. Despite not yet logging a full season’s worth of regular season starts, the versatile defensive back is expected to be relied on to take the next step this season as the Ravens make a push toward another Super Bowl.

Getting in a same-position scrap may not initially seem like further reason to believe that’s possible, until you look at what started the fight. According to reports (and a now-deleted Instagram post from Thomas), things got heated after Clark got on Thomas for a blown coverage.

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Thomas making a mistake is hardly an encouraging part of the narrative, but that Clark, he of 14 career starts, two career interceptions, and just three full sesaons under his belt, felt comfortable confronting and challenging his future Hall of Famer of a teammate shows that he is becoming very comfortable in his role as a starter and a leader on the Ravens defense.

While Thomas obviously took exception to his younger counterpart’s criticism, reports have suggested that many leaders of the Baltimore defense want Thomas gone, which would indicate support for Clark.

The Bottom Line:

With just three weeks to go until the season opener against the Browns, it would have been hard to imagine the Ravens cutting bait with Thomas fresh off a Pro Bowl-caliber season, particularly knowing that he will count $10-million against the cap next season if he’s cut this year. It’s starting to look likely.

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But whether Thomas suits up in purple and black this year or not, Clark will need to produce at the same high caliber he did a season ago, and would ideally take the next step in developing into one of the league’s better strong safeties. With a new contract in hand, a vote of confidence from the front office, and a willingness to be vocal at such a young age, Clark is giving plenty of reason to think he could be stepping into a role as a leader on one of the NFL’s top defenses.