Timmy Jernigan Working For More Playing Time

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Timmy Jernigan was supposed to be the Ravens' solution to trading away Pro Bowler Haloti Ngata.

Yet on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in a season-defining game, Jernigan played half as many snaps as third-round rookie Carl Davis. Jernigan had 17 snaps. Davis had 35.

Jernigan started against the Oakland Raiders in his first game of the season, but Davis has taken that role the past two weeks. Most of Jernigan's snaps have been on third down pass-rush situations while Davis has been the run stopper.

On Wednesday, Jernigan spoke with reporters about his role, which he clearly wants to change. Asked whether he was surprised by the snap count, Jernigan said "a little bit."

"I can't be mad at [Davis] for what happened. All he did was come in and do what he's supposed to. The guy works hard and if he continues to work hard, I think he's going to continue to be a good player," Jernigan said.

"The only thing I can do is worry about what I'm doing. What can I do to get on the field? At the end of the day, everybody's got to run their own race. Whatever my role is on the team, I've got to embrace it and make the most of it."

The Ravens' second-round pick last year has shown great potential. He is very quick and powerful off the snap, and can penetrate gaps to be a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage.

In four games stepping in with Ngata suspended at the end of last season, Jernigan logged 11 tackles and two sacks. He finished the year with four sacks, eight quarterback hits and 12 hurries. That's why the Ravens were comfortable giving him the keys to the starting role this offseason.

"He's very capable of being a real factor inside there, and it's especially true when he plays a certain way, when he really gets after it, when he cuts it loose," Harbaugh said.

"That's what we're trying to get him to do – get off the ball, get off blocks, run to the football, be a physical force in there and play fast. And sometimes too much thinking is not good. He knows the defense now, and we expect him to play with a real high motor. When he does that, he's very effective."

Harbaugh critiqued his defense's effort in the Week 2 game against the Raiders. Davis started the next game. Jernigan said putting in the sweat is going to be what makes the difference.

"I just have to make the most of my opportunities and practicing hard to earn playing time. That's my biggest thing right now," Jernigan said. "Just keep playing hard, keep being coachable, keep playing hard. That's all I can do.

"This season has had its ups and downs. At the end of the day, I've just got to keep playing and weather the storm. I've got to make sure I'm doing my job so we can win. Whatever my job is, I've got to do it and do it well."

Harbaugh sees the second-year player out of Florida State turning a corner, and it appears more playing time is on its way if that continues.

"Timmy is getting better and better," Harbaugh said. "He really stepped it up the last week or so – in practice and in games."

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