Presented with a great opportunity, Devin Duvernay doesn't plan to let it slip by him.
The Ravens' decision to trade Marquise "Hollywood" Brown on draft night has given every wide receiver on the roster a chance to earn a bigger role. Rashod Bateman is now the Ravens' presumed No. 1 wide receiver, a first-round draft pick coming off a solid rookie season.
However, who will be Bateman's main running mate? Duvernay doesn't deny that he's on a mission to win a starting job once training camp opens.
"Yes, kind of," Duvernay said. "I just want to keep gaining these coaches' trust, and as long as they trust me, believe in me, I feel like I'll have no problem. So, I just come out in practice and just do what I can do and have fun with it and show them that I'm a very capable wide receiver and can help this team win."
Entering his third season, Duvernay made the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2021 and improved as a receiver with 33 catches for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Now two veteran wide receivers who were with Baltimore in 2021 are gone – Brown and Sammy Watkins, who signed with the Packers as a free agent.
That leaves the door open for Duvernay, Bateman, James Proche II, Tylan Wallace and other receivers to earn more snaps and targets, especially if Baltimore elects not to add a veteran wide receiver. The Ravens didn't draft a wideout after trading Brown, which Duvernay took as a sign of faith.
"I feel like they kind of believe in the guys that they have," Duvernay said. "They drafted us for a reason. I feel like they feel strongly about us. Every day on this practice field we just try to prove them right in their decisions."
In addition to his reliable hands, Duvernay is a strong runner after the catch who isn't easy to tackle. He is also one of the NFL's fastest players, as he proved as a rookie in 2020 when he reached a top speed of 21.48 miles per hour on a 93-yard kickoff return against the Chiefs.
The Ravens have put an emphasis on improving their deep passing game in 2022, and Duvernay could replace Brown as Baltimore's primary deep threat. Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin says Duvernay took a step toward becoming a more productive target for Lamar Jackson during OTAs and minicamp.
"Much improved from last season, and that's what you want to see in a young player," Martin said. "There were some things that we wanted to detail and improve on in the offseason; he saw it on film, came back with a mentality to work. He's been here ever since we started. Mentally, physically, he's taken another step, and so I'm just looking forward to that translating to the field."
Duvernay believes he can remain the team's No. 1 returner, even if his workload at wide receiver increases. The more he has the football, the more opportunities for big plays, and Duvernay believes he has the stamina to handle dual roles.
"I love playing returner, I love playing receiver, I love having the ball, so if anything, it's just going to drive me to continue to be better and better," Duvernay said.
Duvernay, Bateman, Proche and Wallace were all drafted within the last three years – young wide receivers who have forged a bond while pushing each other to improve. They are ultra-competitive, and they all want more playing time and targets. Duvernay isn't shying away from the challenge and plans to seize the moment, even though he didn't expect Baltimore to trade Brown.
"[He's] a good friend of mine," Duvernay said. "Of course [I] hate to see him go, but we have an opportunity in front of us and we're all excited about it and excited for the future. [I] can't wait to see how the season goes."