Timmy Jernigan Has 'Made A Lot Of Right Steps' In Strong Start

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Timmy Jernigan has never shied away from talking about the goals he has for himself.

He wants to make the Pro Bowl and become a dominant defensive player, and he's well aware of the expectations the team has for him as a 2014 second-round pick.

Now in his third season, Jernigan is living up to those standards.

He's off to a great start this season, racking up a pair of sacks through the first two games. He also has eight total tackles, including two for loss.

"I feel like I have made a lot of the right steps," Jernigan said. "I wouldn't say that [the first two years] were a struggle, but they could have been better. I am embracing it, and I am trying to make up for it."

An area where the Ravens have been particularly pleased with Jernigan is the pass-rush department. With Elvis Dumervil sidelined and Terrell Suggs playing his first games back from last year's torn Achilles, the pressure around the edge has been limited.

But Jernigan has helped offset that by creating pressure up the middle.

"The pass rush is big," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "That's probably the biggest thing. He's really pushing the pocket inside."

Jernigan's advantage is that he's more athletic than most players in the middle of the defense. At 295 pounds, he doesn't have the body type to gobble up blockers at the line up scrimmage. He's a quick-twitch athlete who can sneak past interior offensive linemen to get into the backfield.

He's also shown this year that he won't quit on plays, and that's what led to getting his sack against Cleveland on Sunday.

Another key part of Jernigan's development is his maturation as a person. He had shown flashes in his first two years, but admitted that he didn't play as well as he could have.

The coaching staff challenged him to become a more consistent player, and he dedicated himself to his craft this offseason.

"He's worked hard," Harbaugh said. "He's improved as a football player. It's important to him. He wants to be a great player. That's what he works for every day, and it's paying off."

The key now for Jernigan is to keep it up. Just as the coaches challenged him to be consistent from play-to-play, he has to keep up his play week-to-week.

He's a focal point of Baltimore's defense, and the Ravens need him to continue to play at a high level.

"I feel good about where I am at," Jernigan said. "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."

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