Timmy Jernigan vows to avoid trouble

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan repeatedly talked about how he wants to be the best player and teammate that he can be for the Baltimore Ravens.

Jernigan, a second-round pick, said he'll learn every defensive line position so the Ravens can play him anywhere. He will hit whatever weight the team targets for him, whether that means losing more weight or putting some pounds back on.

Still, the most important statement made by Jernigan at the start of Ravens' rookie minicamp had nothing to do with where he'll play or how he'll look when he takes the field.

"I'm not going to get into any trouble," Jernigan said after Friday's practice. "I'm walking a straight line."

Jernigan, who received a first-round grade by the Ravens, lasted until the middle of the second round because of a diluted drug test at the NFL combine. While Jernigan insists the result came from avoiding dehydration after rapid weight loss, a diluted test can be a sign of masking drugs in the body.

An NFL spokesman said a diluted urine sample is often regarded as a failed test under the league's drug-testing program. If anyone needed a reminder of how repeated trouble can impact a career, you only have to look at what's happening within the division. Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon, who had red flags coming out of college, is facing a season-long suspension after another failed drug test months ago.

"I'm definitely going to prove people wrong," Jernigan said. "Ever since I got drafted, I put that behind me. I'm moving forward with my life. I'm trying to be the best Raven I can be, the best teammate I can be. I'm not worried about that stuff. I'm here to play football."

It's hard to scrutinize what Jernigan can do when he's on the field. He dominated the BCS championship game game against Auburn for 3 1/2 quarters, using his strength to clog up the middle as well as shed blockers.

Ravens rookie slot receiver Michael Campanaro, a seventh-round pick out of Wake Forest, remembers how disruptive Jernigan was when he played against him in the ACC.

"He was a beast," Campanaro said. "Our whole game plan was a quick game because of guys like him. We had to get the ball out as soon as possible and run outside zone a lot."

Jernigan looks like he's ready to play right now. Dropping 15 pounds to get down to 302 pounds this offseason, Jernigan is a solidly built lineman who isn't carrying any extra pounds in the midsection.

The Ravens are looking to play Jernigan at defensive tackle, but he only needed a few days with the playbook to realize that he's going to need to be versatile.

"In a scheme like this, you have to learn everything," Jernigan said. "Guys move around a lot. That's what I've seen. Each defensive lineman plays a little bit of everything. That's my biggest thing is learning the playbook as a defensive lineman, not just as a noseguard or a defensive tackle."

While Jernigan is disappointed that he slipped out of the first round, he's happy where he landed.

"One thing I told myself, 'I want to play for a team that wants me to be on their team, understood my situation and is going to help me get past it,'" Jernigan said. "I definitely feel like this was the perfect situation, being able to go from one great defense to another one. I feel like God put me here for a reason, and I'm definitely here to prove a point."