While the Ravens' upgraded wide receiver unit is getting the buzz, Marlon Humphrey gave everyone a reminder that he's a shutdown corner who shouldn't be trifled with.
Humphrey was targeted on four straight plays during 11-on-11 drills Tuesday and he broke up every one. There was a slant across the middle to Devin Duvernay, then a double on longer throws intended for Sammy Watkins down the sideline, and lastly one more shot to Jaylon Moore.
As Humphrey jogged off the field, he got fist bumps from just about everyone, ending with Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale.
"You try Marlo four times? You're an idiot to try Marlo four times," safety DeShon Elliott said. "What's wrong with you?
"Marlon, he's way after his time. He should have played back when Ray Lewis and them were playing; he's so physical as a cornerback. And he cares about the game of football. Anything technique-wise or anything that happens at practices, he's going to go back and watch that film. I like that he strives to be great. At this moment, he's definitely one of the top two cornerbacks in the NFL."
Humphrey was spectacular last season despite having to shift into the slot. He had one of the best coverage grades in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and forced an NFL high eight fumbles with his trademark "Fruit Punch."
Now with Tavon Young returning from a season-ending knee injury, Humphrey can go back on the "island" outside. Humphrey has gotten a strong challenge from Watkins, rookie Rashod Bateman and others during training camp, but he has won his fair share of battles too.
"We're thinking he's a Defensive Player of the Year-type player," said Pass Game Coordinator/Secondary Chris Hewitt, who suggested that quarterbacks should throw somewhere else.
Here are other notes from Tuesday's practice:
- The bad news is Bateman limped off the field early in practice after stretching for a pass and crumpling to the ground. Head Coach John Harbaugh did not speak after practice so there was no immediate update on his condition.
- Humphrey wasn't the only cornerback who had a good day. Anthony Averett was superb in coverage, including one play where he nearly wrestled an interception away from James Proche II. Averett continues to show that he is a starting-caliber player.
- The Ravens secondary was coming up and putting some thuds on receivers, and it was good to see that from Marcus Peters when he broke up a throw in 7-on-7 work. Safety Chuck Clark had a good pop on Proche to break up a pass too.
- Clark did let one get over his head, however, on the first play of an 11-on-11 drill when Lamar Jackson lofted a perfect pass to Watkins for what would have been a long touchdown.
- Elliott was one-on-one with tight end Eli Wolf on a floated deep pass and went up to knock the ball away.
- Rookie Shaun Wade got what looked to be some advice (and a pat on the back) from Head Coach John Harbaugh. The rookie later made a diving pass breakup on an outside throw.
- In a two-minute drive near the end of practice, Jackson started by threading a pass into tight coverage to Mark Andrews for an immediate first down, then hit Andrews deep down the right sideline in which the big tight end made a spectacular leaping grab over a defender. The drive flamed out, however, when Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe flushed Jackson from the pocket on back-to-back plays to force throwaways, and the offense had to settle for a field goal.
- Patrick Queen nearly had an interception that zipped right over his head, leaving Inside Linebackers Coach Rob Ryan flailing his arms and surely dropping some colorful language.
- There were more rushing attempts in the fully-padded practice than there has been recently. J.K. Dobbins found a couple seams, but overall, there was not much room to operate against the Ravens' stout front. Keep in mind that Bradley Bozeman (strain) and Kevin Zeitler (foot) were both out and Ronnie Stanley (ankle) did not participate after returning for his first practice Monday.