Given a bigger role in the offense, Devin Duvernay has quickly seized the moment.
With two touchdown catches and 54 receiving yards, making a catch all four times he was targeted, Duvernay was among the offensive stars in Baltimore's season-opening 24-9 victory over the Jets. It was an impressive performance for the third-year wide receiver, who wants to prove he's ready to be a consistent offensive weapon.
Sunday was a strong opening statement. He scored the Ravens' first touchdown when they were struggling offensively, beating Bryce Hall for a 25-yard reception late in the first half. It was one-on-one, Duvernay against Hall, and the third-year wide receiver won the battle. Duvernay made a nice release off the line of scrimmage, then outfought Hall to make a leaping catch despite contact and tight coverage. Lamar Jackson made an outstanding throw, and Duvernay rewarded him with a superb catch.
"It felt good to get in the game mode, get things going, show the work I've put in this offseason and training camp," Duvernay said. "I just went up and tried to make a play. We've been doing it all camp. It feels good to put into play in a game."
Duvernay wasn't done. His second touchdown catch went for 17 yards on a crossing pattern after he kept himself alive while Jackson was under duress. Feeling pressure from his blind side, Jackson calmly stepped up in the pocket and saw Duvernay break free. Jackson hit Duvernay in stride, the kind of red zone connection that required both players to adjust.
This is a key season for Duvernay, who expects to be targeted consistently as one of the young wide receivers being asked to step up after the Ravens traded Marquise Brown to Arizona. Duvernay answered the call, and doesn't worry about anyone who questions Baltimore's wide receiving corps. Top receiver Rashod Bateman also showed his big-play ability with a 55-yard touchdown catch that gave the Ravens a 24-3 cushion.
"We don't really listen to what the critics say," Duvernay said. "We all know what we can do. We all know our abilities, our athleticism, our speed."
Head Coach John Harbaugh recognized Duvernay for providing a spark that the offense needed.
"What a game," Harbaugh said. "He came up with plays when we needed plays made. That's what you hope for. We knew it was going to happen.
"I'm not surprised. He's done so many things for us, it doesn't always show up in stat book. But he's made so many big plays for us in the past. He's been doing it in camp every single day. I don't think any of the players are surprised, coaches. We're just happy to see it in a game."
Duvernay was a big-time receiver in college at Texas, catching 106 passes for 1,386 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has already made the Pro Bowl as a returner, but he has longed for an opportunity to be a consistent playmaking wide receiver in the NFL.
Duvernay is still handling punt returns for the Ravens and had two returns for 17 yards against the Jets. But his impact as a wide receiver was even bigger, a sign that he's ready for the opportunity he has earned.
"Just running the routes that are called and made the most of them," Duvernay said. "Run my route, he throws me the ball, just make a play."