Carl Davis Knows It's His Time To Step Up After Timmy Jernigan Trade

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Carl Davis was on the phone with Ravens teammate Willie Henry Tuesday when Henry got a mobile alert.

The Ravens had just traded Timmy Jernigan to the Philadelphia Eagles.

"I was like, 'No we didn't,'" Davis told Henry. "I thought it was an April Fool's thing."

Nope, the Ravens really did trade Jernigan to move up 25 spots in the third round of this year's draft.

Davis and Henry were surprised. After all, they watched Jernigan lead Ravens defensive linemen with five sacks last year. The 2014 second-round pick had 13 sacks in three seasons.

But a different thought also instantly hit Davis.

"Hey, we've got to step up," Davis told Henry.

"That's why we're here. We're not here to be second-stringers or third-stringers. We're here to make plays for this team and help us get to the Super Bowl. It's a championship mindset."

The Ravens traded Jernigan to give themselves more valuable draft ammunition, General Manager Ozzie Newsome said Wednesday. But they also did it because, as Newsome said immediately after the move, they want to give their younger defensive linemen a shot to play.

Those young interior defensive linemen include Davis, Henry and nose tackle Michael Pierce. While Pierce shined as an undrafted rookie last year, Davis and Henry were watching from the sideline.

"We both have a lot to prove," Davis said.

Davis was the Ravens' third-round pick out of Iowa in 2015. He played in 13 games and started three as a rookie, making 11 tackles and knocking down two passes. It wasn't a lot of defensive action, but it was enough to get his feet wet.

But Davis suffered a setback when he injured his ankle in the Ravens' final preseason game in New Orleans last year. It wasn't a season-ending injury, but it was serious enough to land Davis on injured reserve (IR), and essentially give him a redshirt season.

"Last year was super rough for me," Davis said. "Sitting on the sidelines, watching guys go out there making plays. You see the guys growing together too. I just felt like I missed that part. I didn't feel like I was on the team and it was a struggle for me, mentally."

Henry, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan last season, didn't see any playing time and was eventually moved to IR in mid-November.

Of the three young defensive linemen, Henry is most in the mold of Jernigan.

In terms of size, Jernigan is 6-foot-2, 295 pounds. Henry is 6-3, 300, Davis is 6-5, 327 and Pierce is 6-0, 339.

Jernigan made his mark as a quick, penetrating three-technique, and was an interior pass-rushing threat. Henry is also an athletic three-technique who logged 9.5 sacks in three college seasons. Davis is very powerful, but hasn't found his pass-rush potential yet. He had just 3.5 in his four years in the Big Ten. Pierce did notch two sacks in his NFL rookie season, but is more of a true run-stuffing tackle.

"I know I'm a bigger guy, a little bigger than Timmy," Davis said. "I can clog the hole, make sure we stop the run, and I feel like I can pass rush too. I cause havoc and make sure the line of scrimmage stays the same or gets knocked back."

Davis said he got in a lot of weight room work over the past year, and he's been a near daily sighting at the Under Armour Performance Center this offseason. He and Henry also work out at Under Armour headquarters.

He also spent last year watching some of the veterans, such as defensive tackle Brandon Williams, to see how they built rituals from eating to rehabilitation.

Now Davis has gotten the message from Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh. It's his time to take the next, big step in his development. They've made a bold move counting on it.

"That definitely feels good that they believe in us and trust in us," Davis said. "I just want to make sure I don't let those guys down."

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