Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan has never been about style points.
Case in point: the third-year Raven rolls his uniform top up at practice every day, which gives the appearance of a half-shirt, as opposed to his #99 football jersey.
“I don’t know if that will make me a better player,” jokingly responded Jernigan when asked if he would be a better player if the NFL allowed him to play with his jersey pulled up. “It will be interesting to see.”
Jersey up or not, Jernigan has been noticeable along the defensive front over the first two games of the 2016 season.
Against the Browns, Jernigan was one of the main stars on defense in his 41 snaps played (for more, see our own Ken McKusick’s defensive notes). The former Florida State standout wreaked havoc on Josh McCown for much of the afternoon, including three quarterback hurries and a sack.
“I feel good about where I am at,” stated Jernigan following Thursday’s practice. “But I really feel like my coaches are doing a great job by not letting my head get blown up.
“Not even just them, I am not letting that happen. I’m staying humble. I know that my first two years were … I wouldn’t say that they were a struggle, but they could have been better.
“I am embracing it, and I am trying to make up for it.”
Through the first two games, Jernigan has played a key role in the Ravens interior pass rush’s effectiveness. That has been doubly important, as the defense has been struggling to generate pressure from the edges with Elvis Dumervil out and Za’Darius Smith battling an ankle issue.
“I’m just coming out and just giving it my all and everything I’ve got each and every play,” said Jernigan. “I know that [the edge rushers] are going to be fine.
“They are going to come along. The season is still early; there are going to be more opportunities. I have no doubt that at any given game those guys can just break out and have two- or three-sack games.”
The Ravens pass rush will certainly have their chance for a breakout game against the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line, which is battling injury in just the season’s third week.
For Jernigan, his mission is to stay focused each and every week, a sign of his own maturation process after a rough start to his Ravens career.
“Most definitely, I think as a person and as a player, just coming along,” he remarked. “That is the thing about being a professional athlete. It is tough. And especially playing for the Ravens, there is a certain way things are supposed to be done here all the time.
“As I get older, things are becoming easier to me.”
While there are many things that will play out over the rest of the season, Jernigan appears to have found his groove and hopefully continues to make strides.
That’s bad news for opposing quarterbacks.
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