"You see guns, you see violence, you see people being shot at in a parking lot," Dumervil said. "I didn't know any better until I left for college and realized there was more out there. I grew up in a church and my mom was a hard-working lady so I knew right from wrong. I made a lot of bad decisions, too, but I learned from them."

And there was always sports. All Dumervil and his brothers needed was a slab of cement and a game would break out. They played several sports, but Dumervil's aggressiveness made football the best fit.

At one point in high school, Dumervil and his four brothers were on the same team. James Dumervil and Louis Gachelin, his half brother, wound up playing at Syracuse. Elvis followed Burns to Louisville.

"The one common goal that we all had was the love that we all had for football," said James Dumervil, 31. "We had a lot of fuel growing up, a lot of anger, just because the situation that we were in. But football was our safe haven."

'Fit right in'

Preparing for Thursday's game, the Ravens have watched their 38-35 double-overtime victory over the Broncos last January. It still hurts Dumervil to see footage of him not being able to corral quarterback Joe Flacco before he uncorked a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.

Other than the painful walks down memory lane this week, Dumervil has made a seamless transition to the Ravens' locker room. He's teamed with Suggs to give the Ravens arguably their most-formidable pass rush duo. His quiet, yet, intense temperament has also been a perfect complement to the vocal and free-wheeling Suggs. Coach John Harbaugh recently called Dumervil a "4.0 across the board."

"Once he signed, he's fit right in with the guys," Suggs said. "He's a guy that belongs here. He has the mentality that works here, that we have here. He's not afraid to work hard and get better every day."

The Ravens used Dumervil pretty much on passing downs in the preseason with Courtney Upshaw playing strong-side linebacker on running downs. Even while learning a relatively new position, Dumervil said he's felt at home with the Ravens. He said his defining moment, the time where he knew he made the right choice in signing a five-year, $26 million contract, was when the Ravens opened a team meeting the night before mandatory veteran minicamp with a prayer.

"I thought that was probably one of the coolest things ever," Dumervil said. "I had a really tough year in the past year just spiritually. I finally found myself and made a decision off of that. Coming here has been great."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com