Two days after Ravens wide receiver Devin Duvernay’s 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team’s first since 2017, coach John Harbaugh said the third-round draft pick has been earning a larger role on offense.
“I think he is,” Harbaugh said Wednesday on a video conference call. “I think also [rookie wide receiver] James Proche is and all the guys.”
Duvernay has played just 33 offensive snaps in three games, recording four catches for 38 yards. He’s averaging 34 yards per kick return, second most in the NFL.
Harbaugh said the two held a conversation before the game, in which he told Duvernay he thought he was going to make a big play.
“That was one of the most rewarding moments, just a little piece of a game,” Harbaugh said. “Those are the things I think as coaches, that was awesome for him, awesome for all the guys and it was a good play for us.”
Harbaugh defends commitment to run against Kansas City
Harbaugh said he didn’t think the team abandoned the run against the Chiefs after the Ravens threw the ball 28 times and rushed 21 times in the 34-20 loss.
“I don’t think we got away from the run after the first series,” Harbaugh said, "but we need to score a touchdown there. I think once we got in the red zone, we’ve looked at those plays really hard, [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman] has especially hard. Nobody looks at the play-calling more than Greg Roman, who in my opinion is one of the best play-callers in the National Football League and has proven that.
“We’re a running team. We want to run the ball as much as we can. We also want to be productive in the passing game. ... We’re not going to get away from being a running team. That’s something that we think is very important and we’ll try to do our best at calling as many runs as we can every single week.”
On the offense’s first drive of the game, the Ravens rushed the ball on six of the first seven plays and then stalled in the red zone after three straight passes.
On the second drive, down 6-3, the offense went three-and-out after a tripping penalty on tight end Nick Boyle and three consecutive passes. While Duvernay’s kick return touchdown brought the team’s deficit to 13-10 and the defense forced a three-and-out, the Ravens subsequently punted after three straight pass attempts and fell behind by as many as 17 points.
The Ravens averaged 7.5 yards per carry but the team’s running backs ran the ball only 12 times. Meanwhile, quarterback Lamar Jackson produced his worst passing output as a starter, throwing for just 97 yards.
Similar criticisms of the team’s offensive game plan arose after the team’s divisional-round loss to the Tennessee Titans in January, in which the Ravens fell behind early and Jackson attempted 59 passes.
“Obviously we want to control the game running the ball,” running back Mark Ingram II said. “But, ebbs and flows of the game, sometimes it goes a different way. We trust each other, [Roman] is great trying to get a flow of the game and call his plays according to how the game is flowing.”
Nose tackle Brandon Williams declined to comment specifically on a question regarding a report that the league is calling less offensive holding penalties this season but said, “I know the equipment staff keeps having to stitch my jersey up, so that’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Five Ravens were limited in Wednesday’s practice: linebacker L.J. Fort (thigh), defensive back-linebacker Anthony Levine Sr. (abdomen), cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee), offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley (shoulder) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (elbow).
Rookie defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (knee) was a full participant for the first time since training camp. Wide receiver Chris Moore (finger) and running back Justice Hill (thigh) were also full participants.
Seven players from the Washington Football Team did not practice: defensive end Ryan Anderson (ankle), linebacker Cole Holcomb (knee), wide receiver Dontrelle Inman (wrist), defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (non-injury related), offensive tackle Morgan Moses (hip), wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (toe) and defensive end Chase Young (groin). Offensive tackle Saahdiq Charles (thigh) was limited.
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Young, an Upper Marlboro native who starred at DeMatha Catholic High in Prince George’s County, is not expected to play Sunday, according to multiple reports.