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Late For Work 6/15: Ravens Reporter Goes Behind Enemy Lines With Steelers' Coach Tomlin


Ravens Reporter Goes Behind Enemy Lines With Coach Tomlin

Alright Nestor, we expect an extensive report on what you learned about the Steelers when you get back to Baltimore.

WNST's Nestor Aparicio is on a 30-parks-in-30-days ballpark tour to promote his "#GiveASpit" campaign, which is saving lives by signing people up for the national bone marrow registry. People can register by simply swabbing the inside of their mouth. Yup, it's that easy (I did it myself).

For Day 2 of the trip, Nestor went straight into the belly of the beast, meeting up with Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh. Remember, Tomlin was among the supporters of Nestor's wife, Jenn Aparicio, who has thankfully beaten leukemia cancer.

We all know Nestor can talk … and talk … and talk, so he better not have divulged any juicy Ravens nuggets to Tomlin! Let's see just what they were up to:

Next stop on the tour is New York City, where Nestor and Jenn will be hosted by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Follow the journey on Twitter via @NestorAparicio.

Smith Is A Different Kind Of Mentor

Ravens rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman was just 8 years old when Steve Smith Sr. first broke into the NFL in 2001.

So yeah, he has some life experiences and a whole lot of football knowledge that he can impart on not only Perriman, but all of the Ravens' young receivers.

As ESPN's Jamison Hensley points out, this is one of the youngest wide receiver corps in Ravens history. Only Smith has more than two years of experience.

But Smith mentors in a different way than many vets.

"Smith, though, doesn't really embrace the role of a mentor because he doesn't believe he knows everything about being a receiver," Hensley wrote.

Here's what Smith had to say about it.

"I feel like I can learn something from them just like they feel like they can learn something from me. So, I may see a guy do a release, and I'll jot down a note for myself. And then I may see something, and I'll tell them. I just really look at it as really two professionals evaluating each other and giving out some great input and that's really it. [It is] less of [being a] mentor, more of just having a conversation. If you walk in there like, 'Hey, I'm the older guy ...' I just go in there [and say], 'Look, I can learn from you; you can learn from me.'"

Smith also leads by example. As Hensley notes, the NFL Network's 54th best player is the only player over 30 (besides quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Matt Schaub and punter Sam Koch) who attended all of the Ravens' voluntary organized team activities (OTAs).

Aiken's Next Journey: Over The Middle

Wide receiver Kamar Aiken has gone from a journeyman to a potential starter over the past year.

Now his next journey needs to be over the middle of the field, writes Hensley.

According to ESPN's Stats & Information, Aiken caught just two passes between the hashes last season. That means he had 22 catches outside of the hashes.

It's hard to argue with the results when he did go over the middle. One catch was a 17-yard touchdown in Tampa Bay and the other was a 13-yard touchdown in Miami. Otherwise, Aiken was only targeted on one other pass across the middle.

The physical 6-foot-2, 215 pound Aiken certainly doesn't seem to have a problem venturing into the rough and tumble waters, where linebackers and safeties are waiting to dish out big hits.

"I like going across the middle, so I've never feared a route going across the middle," Aiken said at OTAs last week. "I feel like that's where you make your money at."

Jernigan Can End 2nd-Round Pro Bowl Draught

Now here's a weird stat, courtesy of Hensley once again.

In the franchise's sparkling draft history, the Ravens have selected 10 defensive players in the first round and seven of them have gone to the Pro Bowl. In the second round, however, none of the 13 defensive players drafted by the Ravens have been invited.

Some of the names include linebacker Jamie Sharper, safety Kim Herring, cornerback Gary Baxter, pass rushers Dan Cody and Sergio Kindle and nose tackle Terrence Cody.

Only one second-round defender, linebacker Courtney Upshaw, has been a full-time starter for more than one season. Upshaw could earn a Pro Bowl nod this year if he ups his sack production.

Another guy to keep an eye on is last year's second round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who has already made his intentions clear.

"I want to go to the Pro Bowl," he said during OTAs. "I'm not even going to sit here and lie to you."

As Hensley points out, Jernigan was a first-round talent who slipped into the middle of the second round due to a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine. Jernigan flashed last season, making 23 tackles and four sacks in 12 games.

He was particularly impressive when stepping in for the suspended Haloti Ngata for four games at the end of the regular season. With Ngata being traded to Detroit, Jernigan will have the full-time starting job.

Quick Hits

@JForsett has arrived to sign autographs and to take pictures. #ravensnation #ravens #MedStarFedHill — MedStar PromptCare (@MSHPromptCare) June 13, 2015

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