Timmy Jernigan Pays Tribute To Warren Sapp, But Hall Of Famer Doesn't Want It
There was an unfamiliar No. 99 on the practice fields Thursday that wasn't listed on the Ravens' official roster.
Turns out, it was defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who has donned No. 97 for the past couple of years. Jernigan has been patiently waiting for the number, and when the Ravens parted ways with veteran Chris Canty earlier this offseason, it finally opened up for Jernigan to make the switch.
The desire to wear No. 99 is inspired by Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp, whom Jernigan grew up watching.
"Just the way he played the game — nasty, ferocious — he came every play," Jernigan said of Sapp. "You definitely knew he was there when he made a play."
Aww, well that's nice. I'm sure Sapp would be honored.
Oh, wait a minute.
I'm guessing that's not exactly the response Jernigan expected. It's uncalled for; just accept the compliment.
"Warren Sapp's nickname during his playing days was 'Quarterback Killa,'" wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley. "On Thursday night, he was more like 'Compliment Killa.'"
It's unclear why Sapp wouldn't want an up-and-coming player to pay tribute to his career by wearing his number. Some have suggested that it's because the two played on different sides of a collegiate rivalry. Jernigan played football at Florida State while Sapp suited up for the University of Miami about two decades earlier.
Whatever the reason why Sapp wasn't flattered, it clearly upset fans. Many on Twitter lashed out in response.
The Ravens sure wouldn't mind if Jernigan is as productive as the seven-time Pro Bowler. Despite having a solid sophomore campaign last year, Jernigan isn't satisfied with his progress. He temporarily lost his starting job for the first three games of last season due to a Week 1 injury and a costly penalty in Week 2.
The third-year player has suddenly become one of the most experienced players on the Ravens' young defensive line and he wants to take another giant step forward.
"[I] just have to become that force that I was drafted here to be," Jernigan said. "I feel like last year I came up a little bit short. I feel like I had a good year, but to my standards I don't think it was enough. I've definitely been busting my butt day in and day out. I'm doing whatever I can just to take it to the next level and get everybody around me to do the same thing."
Considering Injuries, Ravens Have Strong OTAs Turnout
The Ravens were missing 17 players from their 90-man roster in the first* *Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice open to the media this summer, according to The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec. Eight of those not participating are starters.
Marshal Yanda and Elvis Dumervil are two veterans that typically don't attend the voluntary sessions. Keenan Reynolds (see below) had college graduations this week. C.J. Mosley has regularly been at the Under Armour Performance Center, but missed yesterday's practice for personal reasons and is expected back.
Just about everyone else who didn't participate was because of injuries, which Ryan Mink outlined here. The list included Joe Flacco (knee), Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles), Terrell Suggs (Achilles), Kenneth Dixon (hamstring), Michael Campanaro (calf) and Jimmy Smith (foot).
"Considering injuries, Ravens have strong turnout at OTAs," tweeted the folks at CSNMidatlantic.com.
Hensley: League Making Example Out Of Ravens
The Ravens were expected to be punished for wearing full pads during a five-minute portion of rookie minicamp, but how hard the league came down on the team was not necessarily expected.
The league forced Baltimore to cancel a full week of OTAs. Plus, it fined the organization $343,057 and Head Coach John Harbaugh $137,223, according to ESPN's Jim Trotter.
Some media members were expecting a punishment more in the neighborhood of the one handed down to the Seattle Seahawks. Analysts believe the Seahawks committed a more serious infraction with "excessive levels of on-field contact," but were docked one fewer day of OTA practices and nearly $200,000 less in fines.
"Apparently [the Ravens'] situation was not very egregious when you compare it to other things that are happening, when you compare it to the Seahawks' situation a couple years back," USA Today's Jarrett Bell said on "Football Insiders." "They actually did more. So the penalty here kind of surprises me."
Bell said it's possible the league ticked up the punishment because the Ravens already had an infraction in 2010 for keeping players at the team headquarters for long meetings and practices. Hensley says there might be a second reason.
"The league is certainly making an example of the Ravens, and Baltimore is now paying a hefty price for its mistake," he wrote. "If teams weren't clear about how serious the NFL takes offseason rules, there is no longer any gray area after how the league punished the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday."
Whatever the reason, the Ravens aren't complaining about the league's decision.
"We made a mistake and we are sorry for that," the Ravens said in a statement. "We accept the NFL discipline."
And Harbaugh couldn't have had a more perfect response with the media, fully owning the mistake and telling his players and coaches that they shouldn't have any anxiety over the situation because "the bottom line is, it's on me."
For Now, Ray Rice's Return Was A One-Time Thing
Former Ravens running back Ray Rice returned to the Under Armour Performance Center to speak to the team's rookies about "both the good and the bad" of his NFL career.
As Zrebiec pointed out, Owner Steve Bisciotti has been open to having Rice return to the organization in a player support role. But there are currently no long-term plans for such a move.
"This was [a] one-time thing for now," Zrebiec tweeted.
Rice's wife, Janay, who is 26 weeks pregnant with their second child, visited the facility with her husband Wednesday, according to Hensley.
Rice has frequently spoken publicly about how one decision can change everything, like it did for him, going from a Super Bowl champion to the face of domestic violence. Ravens fourth-round rookie defensive tackle Willie Henry told The Sun that Rice discussed his experiences in Baltimore and what he learned from them.
"He talked to us about being a pro and things like that," Henry said. "… Hearing his experiences about being a pro and things like that — his transition and what he learned from being here, and the guys he looked up to while he was here. Things like that kind of stuck with me."
Ravens Travel Third-Fewest Miles In NFL This Year
After a brutal road schedule last year that included five of the first seven games away from M&T Bank Stadium and three total cross-county trips, NFL schedule makers went a lot easier on the Ravens this time around.
The Ravens have the third-fewest miles to travel in the league in 2016. Actually, the entire AFC North made out well this year because it's playing against the nearby AFC East and NFC East divisions.
The Steelers, Browns and Ravens have the fewest miles to travel, in that order. The Bengals are in the middle of the pack. CBSSports.com's has the full chart here.