With all the uncertainty around Ed Reed's health and status for the start of the 2010 season, Ken Hamlin is suddenly looking like a pretty big offseason addition.
Reed's claims that he might not be ready to suit up until mid-way through the season mean that Hamlin, who the Ravens signed last month, could be the team's starting free safety when the regular season gets underway.
However, while Hamlin might end up next on the depth chart behind Reed, he says he doesn't expect to be handed the job over fellow safeties Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura. In fact, Hamlin says he prefers having to earn it.
"I don't want anything given to me," Hamlin said yesterday on ESPN's Rome is Burning. "Even when I came to Dallas, they had guys that had started the year before, and it was something I had to go work for, and I continue to do that. I did it in Seattle and I want to do it in Baltimore."
Having said that, Hamlin flashed a smile when asked if he would be comfortable coming off the bench.
"You're never comfortable," Hamlin said. "I think I'm almost like Allen Iverson - you come in and want to play. I definitely want to play, but at the same time, whatever role I have to play for us to get to where we want to be in February, I'll have to swallow it and we'll have to do it."
Hamlin has proven that when healthy and playing at his peak level, he can be a force on the back end of a defense. From 2006-2008, he started all 48 games, averaging 77 tackles and three interceptions per season.
Following the 2007 season, the Cowboys rewarded Hamlin by giving him a six-year, $38 million contract, but just two years later, Dallas released the 29-year-old safety after a 2009 season where he had just 52 tackles and no interceptions in 12 games.
Hamlin says he is fully recovered from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games last year, and is out to prove that he is still the same player who made the Pro Bowl in 2007.
"I am playing at that level," Hamlin said. "I think I'm healthy. I feel great, I know that I'm excited to start playing again. You start getting anxious when training camp starts coming, you know the season's about to start. I took a look at the schedule just to see who we're going to be playing.
"I'm hungry. I'm definitely that guy, and I'm going to show it."