Ravens rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey got his first extensive preseason action Thursday night in New Orleans and showed exactly why Baltimore made him its first-round pick.
Humphrey was strong in coverage and created one of the defense's two turnovers when he drove his shoulder into Saints running back Daniel Lasco to force a first-quarter fumble.
Baltimore raved about Humphrey's physicality when it drafted the Alabama product with the 16th-overall pick. He's 6-foot-0, 197 pounds and isn't afraid to throw his body into the fray.
"That felt good," Humphrey said with a smile. "I just wanted to make some type of play today. I was able to make a play, get that excitement going again that I haven't had for a while. … I'll walk away pretty pleased with the first one."
It's been a somewhat frustrating preseason for Humphrey as he's dealt with a pair of injuries in training camp. The injuries held him to just six snaps in the first three preseason games, all in the second game in Miami.
Humphrey played the entire game in New Orleans. The Ravens likely wouldn't have given him quite that much action, but they were short on cornerbacks with Sheldon Price (concussion) knocked out and Jaylen Hill (undisclosed) not suited up.
"I'm a guy that definitely wants to get some games, especially if you can play a game before the season starts. There's a difference from college to the NFL," Humphrey said. "I do feel a lot better now that I got a little game time."
What's particularly impressive about the forced fumble, other than Humphrey's physicality, is that his instincts led him to making the play. Before the play, the 21-year-old rookie told the outside linebacker to stay wide because he wanted to shoot the gap inside.
"I don't know why, I kind of saw it before it happened," Humphrey said. "They ran the play that I kind of had an idea they were going to run, so I saw him coming and I get happy when I see things like that. It's the kind of play I like to make."
It wasn't just his forced fumble that stood out, however. Humphrey was also strong in coverage. According to the play-by-play of the action, he allowed just three catches for 17 yards.
Twice, he took the receiver completely out of the play for long incompletions. He was beaten by a step on another long pass in the third quarter, but used his impressive closing speed to recover and break up the pass.
Humphrey was flagged twice during the game, once for a 9-yard pass interference and later for illegal use of hands.
While the Ravens' starting cornerbacks are set with Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr, Humphrey is still expected to see a lot of action in his rookie season.
"I saw a lot of good coverage," Head Coach John Harbaugh said of Humphrey's play Thursday night. "I saw a press corner. I saw him get a ball out on a nine-route on the right side that was really good. I saw a couple times where he was a little looser than I would like in press, but that's part of the game. I thought he played well."