Ravens rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey unlikely to be used in slot

Slot cornerback Tavon Young’s likely season-ending left knee injury leaves a hole on the Ravens defense. Don’t expect that hole to be filled by 2017 first-round draft pick Marlon Humphrey.

Humphrey might find himself matched up with a wide receiver in the slot on occasion this season. However, that certainly won’t be by design, according to defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

“They all can play in the slot,” Pees said last week during the Ravens’ mandatory minicamp. “There are times where we play ‘corners over,’ and the corner ends up playing on an inside receiver, which really is a slot receiver. That being said, we really like him as an outside guy.”

Humphrey is 6 feet and 197 pounds, and the Ravens believe his length is one of the characteristics that will make him a good outside cornerback in the NFL. He’s also physical at the line of scrimmage and has plenty of speed, but he does not have a lot of experience in the slot.

Humphrey said that at Alabama he played inside at times during practice but never in a game. With the Ravens, Humphrey worked almost exclusively on the outside during organized team activities and last week’s minicamp. That doesn’t figure to change much in training camp. 

“I really, in some ways, especially as a rookie, would rather them sit in at one position and learn that position instead of trying to move them all over the place and them get kind of about half the reps here and half the reps here,” Pees said. “I want to see if a guy can be a starter for us or push to be a starter, so we are kind of sitting him in one spot.”

Young’s injury, which occurred on an interception return during OTAs, was a significant blow to the Ravens. The 2016 fourth-round pick out of Temple had a strong rookie season, even though the 5-9, 177-pound cornerback often found himself in physical mismatches on the outside.

The Ravens believe Young's best spot was in the slot, where he could best use his instincts and quickness in matchups against small and shifty receivers. With Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr outside, that job will go to someone else.

The top candidates are second-year player Maurice Canady, reserve safety and former cornerback Lardarius Webb, and recently signed veteran Brandon Boykin.

Canady, a sixth-round pick last season who played in just four games as a rookie, is the favorite for the role. Coaches have raved about how well he performed in minicamps.  However, both Webb and Boykin would bring considerably more experience to that position.

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