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Ravens CB Marlon Humphrey relishes first field goal block of career against 49ers

"We’ll see if he’s wearing his jersey any time soon,” said Ravens John Harbaugh when asked about a sign Lamar Jackson jersey received by Pope Francis.

Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey had never blocked a field goal on any level of football entering Sunday’s 20-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Special teams coach Chris Horton still insisted on placing Humphrey on the edge of the field-goal block unit, hoping one of the team’s top defensive playmakers could make an impact on another side of the ball.

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Horton’s faith was rewarded, as Humphrey jumped out of a four-point stance and went untouched as he slightly grazed 49ers kicker Robbie Gould’s 51-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half, which came up short.

“I was really excited for him,” said Horton, who was seen embracing Humphrey after the block. “It’s our first blocked kick as a staff, so it was just a real exciting moment and deserving of a hug.”

Coach John Harbaugh on Monday pointed to Humphrey’s block as one of three “game-changing plays” on special teams, noting how the play made a difference in what turned out to be a three-point win.

“I was super excited, I’m not going to lie,” Humphrey said Thursday. “[Horton] believed in me, even though I was like, 'Yo, I don’t think I can.’ He was like, ‘Yes, you can. You can do it.’ He tells me from the sideline, dip that edge like we practiced the other day and you can go get it. I was able to barely tip it and take it off its path.

“It’s not an interception or a touchdown or anything, but it’s definitely one of the most exciting moments of the season for me.”

OC Roman, teammates impressed with Mekari after first start

Right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. can relate to the circumstances that center Patrick Mekari faced making his first NFL start last Sunday against the 49ers.

As a third-round rookie last season, Brown was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 7 when starter James Hurt was sidelined with a back injury.

Brown played well, and kept the starting role for the rest of the season, even after Hurst was healthy and able to return.

Mekari will do the same, with center Matt Skura on injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury.

“We expected [Mekari] to play well,” Brown said Wednesday. “He’s a guy that came in and [has] been stout since day one since he’s been here. He picked up the offense really well. I’m incredibly proud of him, being someone who’s in his second year. I’ve been in that position before, obviously, coming in a little bit later in the season and taking over for a guy. But he’s playing really well.”

Mekari made his first start against one of the top defensive fronts in the league in the 49ers. The undrafted rookie’s start was tougher given that the constant rain throughout the game made ballhandling difficult but he avoided any major mishaps snapping the ball to quarterback Lamar Jackson in the team’s win.

“There’s some things to clean up, like everybody, but he did a very good job,” offensive coordinator Greg Roman said. “Pat’s the kind of guy that he’s only going to get better. It’s how he’s made up. It’s how he’s wired. But that was no easy task. ... The center handles the ball every play and it’s very important that he’s an expert at his job, and he was.”

Extra points

>> Horton also praised the play of returner De’Anthony Thomas, who is averaging 10.71 yards per punt return in four games with the team.

“That’s why he’s here,” Horton said. “We talk about efficient yards and getting efficient yards. ... From a kickoff return standpoint, man, we are working and we are trying to hone in on the little details. At some point, we’ll get one and he’ll give us a spark there.”

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>> Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale said some of the problems defending the run against the 49ers resulted from offensive looks that rookie outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson had not seen.

“We worked on it, because we know how this league is,” Martindale said. “Once they see a scab scratch, they’re going to keep trying to attack it and we’ve worked on it. That’s been a point of emphasis for us going into this game.”

>> Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (non-injury related) did not practice Thursday. Rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown (ankle), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (thigh), linebacker Patrick Onwuasor (ankle) and wide receiver Seth Roberts (knee) were limited.

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