During his rookie year, cornerback Marlon Humphrey had the good sense to stay at work late. He wasn't the last one out of the building, however.
It seemed that no matter how late Humphrey left, safety Eric Weddle and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs were still at the Under Armour Performance Center.
"All those guys that are Pro Bowl guys, a player that I want to be, were still in the building, whether it was doing some type of recovery or doing some film," Humphrey said.
Humphrey had a very strong rookie campaign that didn't land any postseason awards, but got plenty of recognition from those into analytics.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), opposing quarterbacks had just a 55.6 rating when throwing at Humphrey. Only four NFL cornerbacks had a better mark: Jacksonville's A.J. Bouye, Cincinnati's William Jackson, New Orleans' Marshon Lattimore and Baltimore teammate Jimmy Smith. Humphrey was one of 12 cornerbacks who didn't give up a touchdown all season.
Humphrey (No. 16 overall) wasn't the only first-round cornerback who excelled last season. Lattimore (No. 11) was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was one four rookie Pro Bowlers. Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree' Jackson (No. 18) had a strong year and Buffalo Bills corner Tre'Davious White (No. 27) was PFF's second-highest graded cornerback in the league.
"I kind of want to go down in history, and people are looking 10 years from now and we're still in the league and they're like, 'Man, we can't even figure out who's the best corner in that class,'" Humphrey said. "So, definitely, I'm trying to raise the bar and get up there like those guys."
Humphrey and the Ravens believe he's still only scratching the surface of his potential. With his combination of size (6-foot-0, 197), physicality, speed and ball skills, Humphrey has the ability to do whatever he wants on the field.
"He's still a young guy, still learning," Secondary Coach Chris Hewitt said. "One thing that I can say about him is he's got every attribute that you need to be a top corner in this league. I don't expect anything less from him but to be a top corner."
The question is how soon that will come. While the Ravens want to give Humphrey plenty of snaps both to lock down opposing wide receivers and grow his game, Baltimore also has the luxury of depth this season.
Despite a late-season Achilles tear last season, Smith appears to be on track to start Week 1 considering he's back on the field doing 11-on-11 drills during training camp. Veteran Brandon Carr has started every game since he came into the league 10 years ago and is coming off a very solid campaign in which he matched his career-high in interceptions (four).
"It's a great thing for him in a situation that we're in right now with Jimmy, Brandon Carr and Eric Weddle," Hewitt said. "He's able to learn from those guys – knowing how to practice, knowing how to prepare. Those are the things that he's made the biggest jump in."
Humphrey said he feels the biggest difference this year, when compared to last, is that he's more of a pro. He watched how the veterans took care of their bodies with various routines last year, and he tried some things out. Now Humphrey goes into this year knowing better how to manage his own body.
One thing Humphrey is already well-schooled in is patience and deference. The young, talented cornerback said he will be happy with however reps come his way this season, and is confident he can make an impact whether he plays a full game, half game or just a few snaps.
"I think everybody wants to start, but I do know there's a time for everything," Humphrey said. "Jimmy and Brandon Carr have done this for a long time, so I'm just trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can from them."