Marques Douglas stood on the field at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia for an NFL preseason game, happy just to be a member of the Baltimore Ravens as a rookie free agent out of Howard University, allegedly the second tier of college football.
"They introduced our defense," the aspiring defensive tackle recalled, "and I said to myself: `That's got to be me some day. Getting my name called out.' I know a lot of other guys feel the same way, but if you don't believe in yourself, no one else will."
The Ravens believe Douglas has the potential to play in the NFL, and after two preseason games, the Ravens and Douglas have much in common. The team lacks enough firepower on offense to make more than a ripple once the games start to count, but they have won each test so far.
The first was against a team also projected as ordinary, the Philadelphia Eagles. The second was Saturday night in Atlanta against the defending NFC champion Falcons. In each situation, the defense kept the Ravens in the game when the first teams were on the field and the backups, especially quarterback Tony Banks, generated the deciding points.
"Yep, it was a good night for the Ravens, no doubt about it," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said after the second- and third-team offense produced two fourth-quarter touchdowns during the 19-6 victory over the Falcons. "We came out [and] made a statement. Yes, it is preseason, but a win like this lets us know really where we stand."
Douglas would like to be a member of the Ravens when the regular season begins, but they have several promising young players with more experience at his position. At 6 feet 2 and 270 pounds, Douglas is judged too small to go up against much larger offensive linemen. One who might be battling for a spot on the developmental squad, the slightly larger Larry Fitzpatrick, had a sack late in the Atlanta game.
"He has a great motor -- and he makes progress every day," Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said of Douglas.
Douglas's size has worked against him through each step of his football career. He weighed about 150 pounds and played trumpet in the school band instead of football during his freshman year at Dudley High in Greensboro, N.C. He kept growing, but not enough to attract much interest from the Atlantic Coast Conference schools so close to home.
"That's why I had to go to D.C. to play my college football," Douglas said.
At Howard, he became a starter after halftime of his second game as a freshman -- and went on to accumulate 39 1/2 sacks, 268 tackles and a sense that he could play in the NFL.
"I sometimes would dominate guys," he said. "You hear that the level of competition is not what it's supposed to be to make you ready for the next level, but I'm right there now with some kids from bigger schools. And I'm not unaccustomed to work."
That is why Douglas has two huge dreams: the NFL and a career in the legal profession, with his ultimate goal a judgeship. One of his heroes, Alan Page, is among the players to have realized such goals, becoming a Hall of Fame defensive tackle with the Minnesota Vikings and now a Minnesota state Supreme Court justice.
Douglas earned his degree in human development and had a minor in administration of justice. He also was president of his social fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, and was a member of the Baptist Student Union.
When veteran Ravens followed a tradition almost as old as pro football and told rookie Douglas to sing in front of the entire team, he surprised them. Instead of offering the usual fare, his school's fight song or its alma mater, he belted out a gospel tune.
"I know I'm not the prototypical defensive lineman," Douglas said, "but I know I can play in this league if I'm only given a chance. Right now, I'm being given that chance."