Marlon Humphrey has interceptions on his mind.
Already one of the NFL's top cornerbacks, Humphrey is the best in the business at punching the football from opponents with his signature technique known as "The Fruit Punch." Humphrey led the league with eight forced fumbles last season.
Now the two-time Pro Bowler is determined to add more picks to his bag of tricks. With eight career interceptions in four seasons, Humphrey believes he has the ability and the experience to corral more interceptions and he plans to make that happen in 2021.
Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt and Humphrey spent time during OTAs and mandatory minicamp discussing Humphrey's mental approach to each play. They are looking for ways to put Humphrey in position to make more plays on the ball, and he is taking those conversations to heart.
"Something I'm trying to focus on this year, going into the season, is really just trying to get the ball more, as far as interceptions," Humphrey said. "I've been talking with my DB coach Chris and just trying to figure out what you're going to take into the season to have a couple consistent things that you do.
"What Coach Chris keeps telling me is, 'Have a gameplan when you get to the line.' That's something that I think I'm going to take into the season."
Humphrey intercepted Lamar Jackson during the final practice of mandatory minicamp, tracking down a deep ball that was underthrown. It wasn't a difficult play for Humphrey to make, but he will take interceptions however they come as part of a talented Ravens secondary that hopes to produce turnovers on a consistent basis.
Baltimore already has the NFL's current king of interceptions, Marcus Peters, who starts at cornerback opposite Humphrey. Peters has more picks (31) than anyone since 2015, and he has given Humphrey a front-row seat to watch a cornerback who aggressively attacks the football. Humphrey loves talking about the game with more experienced corners like Peters and Jimmy Smith, picking their brains about their techniques.
Humphrey has also enjoyed the challenge of defending the Ravens' wide receivers at practice, and the additions of Sammy Watkins and rookies Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace has given Humphrey a deeper group to compete against. Humphrey is looking forward to training camp and watching two new coaches – Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin and Pass Game Specialist Keith Williams – continue their work with the receivers. As the receivers work to get open, Humphrey will work to cover them, looking for more interceptions in the process.
"When you've got really good wide receivers that are doing good things in practice, it makes training camp that much more realistic, because that's the work we need," Humphrey said. "We try to pride ourselves on being the best secondary, and it's hard to be a really great secondary when you've got two or three good wide receivers. You want to have it to where you've got five and six and seven wide receivers, to where it makes it really tough on what wide receivers you pick.
"It seems like in the past, it was like these three guys, these four guys are for sure going to make it, and then we don't know about this guy. I feel like this year, it'll be a really tough decision to figure out who's going to make it, because we've got some serious stuff. I think the coaches over there – the new coaches – are really pushing them to be great."
As an established veteran, Humphrey could have elected to skip voluntary OTAs, but he was present and fully engaged, and at mandatory minicamp he was one of the loudest voices on the field. His determination to take his game to another level remains intense.
"As far as OTAs, some guys come, some guys don't, it's an optional thing," Humphrey said. "But for me, I just wanted to get back, get some sessions in, get with my coach, work on a couple things. It's a long offseason, and I was ready to get to work – work with some of these guys. And so, I enjoyed it. I feel like I wanted to see how our draft picks looked, how some of the guys have been working in the offseason. It was a good OTAs and minicamp, and it was really good to see everybody all together the past two days to get some good work in."