Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on Marlon Humphrey, Maxx Williams and 'archaic' NFL rules

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was talking Wednesday night about trusting the process when, by way of explanation, he began to discuss Marlon Humphrey’s monthslong evolution in Baltimore.

When the Ravens took the former Alabama cornerback No. 16 overall in the NFL draft this April, Bisciotti told 105.7 The Fan (WJZ-FM)’s Mike Popovec and Russell Street Report’s Tony Lombardi on the “The Original Greene Turtle's Ravens Rap Show” on Wednesday, “half the people are happy and half the people say we're idiots because we should've taken somebody else.” But he remembered meeting Humphrey and his parents the day of the draft, and coming away impressed.

“I said to him, ‘So tell me about this weakness that everybody's saying that you have, that you get beat deep,’” Bisciotti said. “Watched some tape and I saw that that's your weakness, that’s the critics. And he said, ‘I'll prove them wrong.’

“So when he came out into camp in May and June, I kept watching him on the field and I said, ‘Why is he not pressing? We got a big, first-round corner. Press everything. Make him press everything.’ Well, the kid was playing soft because he wasn't going to get beat deep, because that's his weakness, so they said.

“So he comes out and he said no one's going to beat me deep because I'm going to prove that my weakness is not there. And all he did was play off coverage and let everybody get a stop-stick route for 8 yards. ...

“Everything was being completed on him, and so I talked to [coach] John [Harbaugh], and John sat down with him and he said, ‘We've got two great safeties [in Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson], you're not going to get beat over the top. If you need help over the top, then we'll give it to you. It's not your job. But if you don't beat the [expletive] out of that guy at the line of scrimmage, if you never let him get off the line of scrimmage, he can’t beat you deep.’ And then Marlon said, ‘Gotcha. I got it.’ ... Now he is what we want.”

Also of note from Bisciotti’s appearance in North Ocean City:

— The topic of player protests in the NFL was not broached, apparently at Bisciotti’s request.

— Bisciotti did not sound happy with Maxx Williams’ fumble Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The tight end was injured during the play and did not return.

“Maxx Williams should've gone down after he got the first down, and he didn't, and the ball gets stripped,” he said. “I have a little more tolerance for a skinny wide receiver having the ball stripped out when they stack him up. A 260-pound guy? I'm not real happy with Maxx right now. Tight ends don't get the ball stripped from them when they get stacked up.”

— Bisciotti said his emotional investment in games ranges somewhere between that of a fan and a player: “You really, really have to be done with [a game’s result] by Tuesday, and fans are not done with it. They're not. Because your preparation for the game is to order the wings. [Players’] preparation is to be ready to kill somebody.”

By Wednesday morning this week, Bisciotti said, he had his coach’s hat on. “I'm much more interested in how we're going to attack the Vikings and I'm getting some preliminary thoughts in game plans and ideas and playing this guy over that guy and working this guy into more of a rotation, and this guy's earned more snaps than that guy.”

— Count Bisciotti among those in football who feel that the lack of full-contact practices ends up hurting the NFL’s product: “It doesn't mean that we wouldn't lose them earlier, because you might lose some of them in August, but I'm seeing guys go down, and I can trace it back to 40 hours of work or 20 hours of full-contact practice when it used to be 100 and 50.

“In the next [collective bargaining agreement], there's two things that I think we need to do. I think we need to get back to more padded practices, and I think that we probably have to expand our roster, No. 1, on the 53[-man roster] and, No. 2, on the 45 [for] game day. [Editor’s note: 46 players can be active on game days.] I mean, to me, that's ridiculous. That's such an archaic rule that there were bad teams that thought that if the good teams had more players, then they could even be better than the bad teams, which, again, makes no sense to me. ...

“If we had a roster of 60 and a game day of 55, then I think that these guys would flourish more. I think that they'd play better. I think that they'd understand schemes better and I think the product on the field would be better. I'm a big proponent of understanding the rosters, and that's got to be initiated through the collective bargaining agreement.”

Bisciotti also said NFL teams should be able to protect and retain five of their 10 practice squad players each season, in the interest of their development.

— You can watch the first part of the interview here and listen to the second here.

jshaffer@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jonas_shaffer

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