When Ravens training camp began, the starting corners appeared to be set, with Marlon Humphrey and Rock Ya-Sin, who signed with the team in May.
Pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt changed that notion this week when he said Jalyn Armour-Davis had been pushing Ya-Sin for a spot. Then on Wednesday Ya-Sin went down with an apparent lower-body injury that coach John Harbaugh said he should be back from soon.
With Ya-Sin out, Armour-Davis has played in his spot, covering Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and the other top targets. Armour-Davis has made plays in his new role and had his fair share of plays that might result in fines from Hewitt. (More on that later.)
The Ravens drafted Armour-Davis in the fourth round from Alabama last year. He played in the Ravens’ first three games, but after he gave up a few big plays against the Patriots, the team put him on the inactive list. Armour-Davis returned in Week 9 against the Saints to play on special teams, but he had season-ending hip surgery a week later.
After practice Friday, Armour-Davis talked with The Baltimore Banner about those fines for the defensive backs, his goals this season and his injury.
This conversation has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.
Hewitt mentioned this week that he implemented fines for defensive backs for mistakes. What’s been your experience with that?
[Laughs] So we have a fine system with categories, whether it’s a misalignment, a mental error, busted coverage or a technique error. In the red zone, the fine doubles because, you know, points matter. In the red zone, you got to tighten up so everything that you do wrong — or everything you do positive — doubles in the red zone, so it’s just something to keep us sharp. Nobody wants to lose their money.
How much are the fines?
Not huge. Maybe $20 for something small; a touchdown might be like $50, but doubled to $100 if it’s in the red zone.
Can you earn money?
If you make a play like on an interception or a pass breakup, but I mean, if you got great coverage, it’s just great coverage. That’s what you’re supposed to do.
What’s the most you’ve been fined?
I think 50? Yeah, I had a 20 that doubled, and then I had a 10.
Do the guys joke about the fines on the field?
We do it all the time on the field or watching film. But we get on coaches to like, “Hey, you know, that’s not a fine, Coach. Coach, that was a positive thing that you didn’t mark for me; we’re going to have to get that up.”
The Ravens were linked to many cornerbacks in the first round throughout the draft process but didn’t select one until the fifth round. Did that give you a boost of confidence?
I mean, it’s a positive thing, for sure, but it’s not really something that I leaned on. I was focused on getting healthy, getting in my playbook, and just being 100 percent ready for myself. I’m not really out to prove anything to anyone that’s outside of this building.
Are you at the level you want to be right now?
Not even close. I think the main thing is I have just too many ups and downs. But, you know, my main thing right now is trying to keep it from going up and down, just consistency.
Do you look to other players or have people you lean on to help you improve?
I’m more of a guy that just really pays attention to my surroundings. Of course, I talk to guys. I talk to all the leaders in our room, Marcus Williams. I talk a lot to Marlon Humphrey every now and then. You know, guys can give you advice, but I usually try to watch what they do, the way that they approach it, the way they practice, and learn that way.
Last season you were inactive for most of the year before going on injured reserve in Week 11. Was it difficult not playing?
So the injury really is kind of a long story. I’ll keep it brief. I made a decision early on to play through the injury before the season even started, and you know, I knew it was going to require surgery, but I felt like if I had some type of juice, I might as well use the juice until I absolutely cannot play.
So, you know, that’s what I attempted to do and was able to earn, you know, a little bit of playing time, the first three weeks, even with the injury. Then I was inactive and was still able to do some practicing, though. And, you know, just eventually, over time, it was something that had to be taken care of. I’m happy that it’s behind me.
What was that surgery?
I tore my right hip labrum with an impingement in the same hip. So it’s a little tough to play corner without a hip. [An impingement is caused when the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t fit together properly.]
In the Week 3 game against the Patriots, you allowed a few big plays to DeVante Parker, and he had his best game of the year (5 receptions, 156 yards). What did you learn from that experience?
Times like that, you know, as you’re getting adjusted to the speed of the game. And learning the ups and down as an NFL player, there are a lot of things that you don’t ever want to feel again, and that’s one of those things. That’s one of those things I was able to learn from. He played well. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. And I gave up a big play.
You’ve been a father and married now since you were in college. How do you balance football with your family?
It starts back with my mom. My mom taught me a lot. She worked a ton to send me to private school for high school, and obviously that’s not cheap. So, yeah, when it comes to balancing things, you know, my mom was at work a lot doing what she had to do to provide for the house. So it was on me to be able to handle my sports, which were football and track, go take care of my two younger sisters during the week and make sure they eat well and make sure I still do homework, and make sure they do everything. So that was pretty challenging because obviously after school, you want to do stuff, and I couldn’t do it.
So once I got my own, it wasn’t too big of a transition. And when I got to the NFL, it’s like, “At least I don’t have school, right?”
Did you have any rookie duties that you’re glad to be done with now?
We don’t do that too much. It’s not really a Raven thing, doing all the dinners and stuff like that. We keep it small. I had to get snacks, so I’d make a few Costco runs. I’m in Year 2, so I’m not handing out any tasks for rookies or anything like that, but they might have to carry one of the veteran guy’s helmets or something like that. We’re not really into the $10,000 dinners and stuff like that.
How many snack runs did you have to do?
For away games, we would rotate to get food for the plane. Last year was me, Damarion “Pepe” Williams and Kyle Hamilton. But it was just getting like $100 worth of wings — it’s no big deal. Our guys keep it pretty mellow when it comes to stuff like that, so it’s good to be a Raven. Them other guys be trippin’.