A few weeks ago, Ravens Pro Bowl cornerback Marlon Humphrey could only identify rookie receiver Devin Duvernay as No. 13. But now, he probably knows his name, height, weight, the college he attended and the best routes he runs.
Duvernay has blown by Humphrey and fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters several times in training camp practices to gain their respect. He is also gaining more trust to put him on the field during game day from coach John Harbaugh. It’s only a matter of time.
Now, it’s just a question of when, where and what position?
“I feel like that’s being determined as we speak,” said Harbaugh of Duvernay’s playing time in 2020. “He’s earning more and more every day. He’s done a really good job. He’s a hard worker. He doesn’t say a lot, but he works a lot. He’s done a great job with the route-running, catching hands. He’s been especially good downfield tracking balls, in terms of the deep ball.
“I think he’s going to have a role. We’ll see exactly how it plays out.”
It will be hard to keep him off the field. Duvernay is fast (4.39 40-yard dash time) and big enough (5 feet 10, 210 pounds) to play on the outside. But he is also so quick and elusive that he could create a lot of mismatches as a slot receiver against No. 3 cornerbacks or safeties.
The Ravens have a young group of receivers, including second-year players Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin as well as veteran Willie Snead IV. But because of his ability to make big plays, the Ravens might be forced to get Duvernay on the field. With Brown on one side and Duvernay on the other, that’s an extraordinary amount of speed on the playing surface at one time.
There’s got to be a hole somewhere.
“Yes, they’re both really fast,” Harbaugh said. “They both track the deep ball really well. I think that’s there. They’re kind of built different. Devin is a thicker-body-type guy, and Marquise is kind of a real smooth and gliding-type runner with his speed. So, while the similarities are there with the speed and stuff, their styles are a little different. When you watch them, it’s kind of apparent.”
Duvernay could also return kicks. He has been competing with fellow rookie James Proche II and Snead even though the bulk of his time is at receiver. But again, the Ravens want to get him on the field as much as possible.
Duvernay welcomes the opportunity.
“It’s been going well,” Duvernay said. “Coaches had asked me if I’d done it before. I said, ‘No, but I’m up for the challenge.’ I’m looking forward to getting better at that as well, catching punts and kickoffs.”
Duvernay’s forte, though, is catching the football. Actually, he just snags it. As a senior at Texas last season before the Ravens selected him in the third round, he had 106 receptions for 1,386 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. In four years as a Longhorn, he caught 176 passes and dropped only one.
The Ravens have been impressed with his work ethic. That comes from his family which has produced a bunch of accomplished athletes. His father Henry was an outstanding sprinter in high school. Uncle Calvin Murray played baseball at Texas and spent six seasons in the major leagues. Uncle Kevin Murray played quarterback at Texas A&M in the 1980s. Cousin Kyler Murray won the 2018 Heisman Trophy as quarterback of Oklahoma and was the No. 1 overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2019 NFL draft.
Maybe that’s why the Ravens aren’t so concerned about Duvernay having not played in any preseason games. Football is in his blood.
“I think I am ready to hit the ground running,” Duvernay said. “You kind of roll with things and have scrimmages and such. I think the coaches have done a great job of preparing us, especially rookies, for the first game since there is no preseason. Just making sure we’re used to the speed of the game, the contact and everything.
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“It was just kind of driven in me when I was a little boy,” Duvernay said of his competitive spirit. “I’ve always been competitive in whatever it was I was doing. It just stuck with me. It’s just a drive that I have, the love that I have for winning and the love I have for this game. I just try to never let up and just continue to keep pushing and keep pressing until we get success.”