Turnovers Are a Huge Focus for Ravens Defense

CB Marlon Humphrey

During the early portion of Wednesday's OTA practice, the defensive backs went through a drill designed to force more turnovers. Players took turns trying to swipe the ball from a teammate.

It's the kind of exercise that teams practice regularly, but the Ravens hope their emphasis on takeaways produces far better results in 2022. Baltimore tied for 30th in the NFL in takeaways last season with just 15. Only the Jets (14) and Jaguars (nine) had fewer, and it was the fewest takeaways for Baltimore since 2015.

"We want to preach turnovers, think turnovers," Humphrey said. "I might be walking in the cafeteria and hit somebody's lunch plate out of their hands trying to get a forced fumble. That's a really big thing for us. I think you can have a great, fundamentally sound defense, but if you have no turnovers, your defense still just kind of is whatever."

Baltimore added several players this offseason who they believe will help them become more adept at forcing takeaways. Safety Marcus Williams, who was signed during free agency, had 15 interceptions in five seasons with the New Orleans Saints. First-round safety Kyle Hamilton had eight interceptions during his three seasons at Notre Dame. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, who was signed on Wednesday, has 19 career interceptions and tied for the league lead with seven in 2018.

Some believe the Ravens have assembled the NFL's best secondary, and Humphrey wants to make that a reality.

"I would love to prove it; that's the biggest thing for me," Humphrey said. "I would love to make that statement be true."

Humphrey said he had been inspired by learning more about the 2000 Ravens defense, one of the greatest in NFL history, which had 49 takeaways and got five takeaways in Super Bowl XXXV.

"I was unaware of how special that defense was," Humphrey said. "Coming from Alabama, we don't really watch that much NFL, so I knew nothing about it, but I'm hearing sometimes the only two scores would be two defensive touchdowns or something like that. That group has really inspired me, led by Ray [Lewis] and all those great players. "

The Ravens were without Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters the entire 2021 season due to a his knee injury. There has been no NFL cornerback better than Peters (31 career interceptions) during his era at putting himself in position to force turnovers, and he willingly shares information with teammates.

Peters' return to Baltimore' revamped secondary will give new Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald the ability to use some creative looks with players who are adept at taking advantage. Humphrey, who forced just one fumble in an injury-shortened 2021 campaign compared to an NFL-leading eight forced fumbles in 2020, is planning to use his signature “Fruit Punch” move to produce more game-changing plays.

"There are just so many things I'm so excited about this year," Humphrey said. "I'm excited to see 'PQ' [Patrick Queen] take a big step; I'm excited for me to take a step, getting back to where I was; I'm excited for Marcus to get back healthy. Just so many different guys that I just see leading our defense and making those plays.

"I think turnovers are the name of the game. You can't go too crazy in OTAs, of course, because of contact, but I think [in] training camp, we're going to be some pests on the offense."

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