The Ravens knew Devin Duvernay had talent when they drafted him in the third round, but his work ethic has also impressed Head Coach John Harbaugh.
Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is Lamar Jackson's primary deep threat, but Duvernay ran a 4.39 at the Combine and has the speed to get behind cornerbacks.
It remains to be seen how much playing time Duvernay will get as a rookie, in a wide receiver group that also includes Willie Snead IV, Miles Boykin, and James Proche II. However, Duvernay is making his case for playing time and Harbaugh is noticing.
"He's earning more and more every day," Harbaugh said when asked about Duvernay's possible role. "He's done a really good job. He's a hard worker. He doesn't say a lot, but he works a lot. He's been especially good downfield tracking balls in terms of the deep ball. I think he's going to have a role."
Duvernay could also have a role on special teams returning punts and kicks. He wasn't a returner at Texas, but Duvernay has embraced his practice reps on special teams. Proche is also in the mix for the return job and both rookies are hungry for any avenue to get on the field and make plays. Week 1 is less than two weeks away, and while rookies won't have the benefit of preseason games, Duvernay thought Saturday's scrimmage at M&T Bank Stadium replicated the game intensity he wanted.
"Being able to fly around, go live and hit each other, I think that was a good chance to help that transition," Duvernay said. "I'm a rookie now, starting over. I'm going to have to continue to develop and earn people's respect."
After working out with backup quarterback Robert Griffin III this summer, Duvernay has gotten to work consistently with Jackson since the beginning of camp. He's excited to join a team with an MVP quarterback and looks forward to their chemistry growing as the season progresses.
"He has a strong arm, puts a lot of zip on the ball, but very catchable," Duvernay said. "It's been great to be able to play with him. Never would have thought I'd be playing with a guy like this. I'm super-excited for the future."
Harbaugh Gives Health Update on Justin Madubuike
Rookie defensive lineman Justin Madubuike missed his second straight practice Tuesday and is not expected back this week.
A third-round pick from Texas A&M, Madubuike is expected to be part of the defensive line rotation behind Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe. The Ravens open the season Sept. 13 against the Cleveland Browns and Harbaugh did not give a definitive timetable for Madubuike's return.
"It will be a little bit, but nothing close to season ending," Harbaugh said. "It won't even be multiple weeks during the season. He got caught up in a little pile. I would say a little more than day-to-day, maybe week-to-week here for a couple of weeks and we'll just see where he's at."
Ravens Have Final Stadium Practice Wednesday
The team will return to M&T Bank Stadium for practice Wednesday, the final time they will visit the stadium before Week 1. However, it will not be a scrimmage like their previous visit to M&T on Saturday.
"We have a script that we're going to use," Harbaugh said. "It's not going to be a contact practice. It's going to be an execution operation practice. So, a lot of situational work, a lot of technique type work. But it will be a competitive scrimmage like we had on Saturday night."
Preparing for the regular season with no preseason games has been a different kind of challenge for coaches as well as players. Harbaugh believes the Ravens have handled the situation well, and another practice at the stadium is another step in the process.
"These guys have played a lot of football, most of them in big programs, so I don't think they're going to be too shocked by it all," Harbaugh said. "But this year is going to be like no other. It's going to be a lot of things that are going to happen that we'll be seeing for the first time. So, it'll be fun and exciting in that sense, but I do feel like our guys are up to the task."
Calais Campbell Making Seamless Transition Similar to Mark Ingram II
In his first season with the Ravens, Mark Ingram II quickly became a team leader and helped set the tone for a tight-knit locker room. Calais Campbell is following the same path. His new teammates are aware of his talent, but they also respect Campbell's stature as the NFL's reigning Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Entering his 13th season, Harbaugh was asked if he could think of two newcomers who had transitioned more seamlessly into leadership roles.
"That's a great question," Harbaugh said. "Really, I'm not sure. I can't think of two. They're really amazing. They're outgoing people, high character guys and they really care about their teammates. Those are the qualities of leadership where it all starts."