2014 Rookies Poised For Even Bigger Roles

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The 2014 Ravens rookies quickly established themselves as one of the team's best classes in recent memory.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley became the first player in team history to earn a Pro Bowl bid his rookie season. Defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan helped keep the defense from missing a beat when veteran Haloti Ngata was suspended four games.

Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, tight end Crockett Gillmore and offensive lineman John Urschel were all valuable backups who played key snaps during the season. Even undrafted offensive lineman James Hurst started seven games at left tackle, including both playoff contests.

The group set a high bar for itself, and now the young players have their eyes set on even bigger roles in 2015.*
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"You can't get complacent with what you did and feel comfortable with where you're at," Jernigan said after a recent practice during Organized Team Activities. "I'm just trying to take it to the next level."

Jernigan's attitude meshes with what several of his second-year counterparts have said this offseason. Mosley, who finished second in the NFL's Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, specifically pointed to gaining a better grasp on the mental side of the game.

"I'd say learn every day," Mosley said. "Pretty much the saying is, 'If you don't get better, you get worse.'"

Another player the Ravens are counting on to have a big sophomore season is Gillmore, who is currently in line for a starting job. Gillmore started one game last year and primarily played behind veterans Owen Daniels or Dennis Pitta. Gillmore finished the year with 10 catches for 121 yards and a touchdown, and added a touchdown grab against the Steelers in the playoffs.

"It's been a night-and-day thing for me," Gillmore said. "I really went back after the season and was able to watch film, kind of judge myself and judge what all we were doing, and really understand the offense a little bit better."

Taliaferro could also be in line for more snaps. His season was cut short by a foot injury, but he showed bright spots in his 13 games played. He had 292 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries.

He's caught the attention of media members by reporting to offseason practices noticeably leaner, and will compete with rookie Buck Allen for carries behind veteran Justin Forsett. 

"I feel like I can be a lot better than I was last year," Taliaferro said. "I feel more confident in myself. You get a year under your belt so you know what to expect. I think I can go out there and do some things way better than I did last year."

Perhaps the most significant benefit for the 2014 class going into the season is the value of their experience. So many players had chances to play last season, and now they're suited to capitalize on their opportunities. 

"I feel so much more at home. Things that were always on my mind last year have become second nature," Urschel said. "You get thrown into it and it's trial by fire. You get so much better so quickly from that in-game experience. With that brings confidence."

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