Ravens rookie cornerback Marlon Humphrey has stepped up in Jimmy Smith's absence

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at The Baltimore Sun.

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Justin Hunter (11) is stopped by Baltimore Ravens defensive back Marlon Humphrey (29) during the second half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey’s insertion in the starting lineup following Jimmy Smith’s season-ending Achilles injury and subsequent suspension was met with a great deal of anticipation. Less than three weeks later, Humphrey is barely being talked about at all.

For a rookie cornerback, that qualifies as good news.


“Unless you are talking about interceptions, it is good to not be talking about corners,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees joked Thursday.

Humphrey, the rookie first-round pick, has more than held his own since replacing Smith ahead of the Dec. 10 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In three games against the Steelers, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts, Humphrey has been targeted 23 times and allowed only nine completions for 92 yards and no touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus.


“I was getting a pretty good amount of reps to be the third corner, but going into that starting role, you kind of forget how it feels to play the whole game,” Humphrey said earlier this week. “After that first one, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ A little soreness, new nicks and bruises. But I’ve gotten a little more adjusted, gotten my feet under myself. I’m feeling a little more confident.”

Pees has shown just how much the team trusts the former Alabama standout, using him at times over the past couple of weeks to shadow Cleveland’s Josh Gordon and Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton. It wouldn’t be surprising if Pees uses Humphrey in certain situations Sunday to match up Cincinnati Bengals star receiver A.J. Green who has scored six touchdowns in his past six games against the Ravens.

“I feel comfortable with him. We matched him up a couple of times on receivers, who we thought were really top receivers, and he loves the competition. That is what I love about him,” Pees said of Humphrey. “I just feel really good about him. I feel very confident. I think he is very confident. I do not think he is overconfident. Again, he is just a smart, smart football player.”

Asked about potentially matching up against Green, Humphrey said, “It seems like lately, we’ve been going against some of the best guys. That would be a really big challenge. My plate will definitely be full trying to handle him.”