Ravens want to see more of Timmy Jernigan on the field

"We have all the confidence that he can step in there and get the job done, no matter where we put him in the defensive front," defensive end Chris Canty said of Timmy Jernigan (97). AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan returned to practice this week looking like a man wanting to make up for lost time, violently hitting the blocking dummies in one drill and crashing the middle of the line in another.

Ravens coaches and teammates remain confident Jernigan is talented enough to help fill the void left by Haloti Ngata. They just want to see more of him on the field.

Jernigan, a second-round pick from a year ago, missed a week of training camp and the preseason opener with a foot injury. This comes after a season in which he missed four games with a knee injury and was limited to 22 snaps in the regular -season finale due to an ankle injury.

Asked to evaluate Jernigan's performance in camp, defensive coordinator Dean Pees seemed pleased but added an asterisk.

"That's the biggest thing there, is the fact that I wish [Jernigan] could be in there all the time," Pees said. "That's not his fault. I think it's going well. It's hard to sometimes give you a true evaluation if you don't see them day after day after day after day. Like Carl Davis, we're seeing day after day, and I saw him in the game, and I thought he really performed well in the game. So, I can give you a little better evaluation. Timmy, I still believe, he's the guy that we drafted. I just wish we could get him out there a little more, but again, that's not his fault.”

Jernigan was having the best camp of the Ravens' defensive players for the first two weeks. He was disruptive and relentless. Then, the foot injury put Jernigan on the sideline.

He acknowledged missing time was frustrating, but he doesn't feel like he's close to being known as the player who's always injured.

"In this situation, I knew that I would be back," Jernigan said. "I knew it wasn't a situation where, ‘Oh man, I'm going to miss some serious time.' I knew it was nothing like that. What my coaches preach to me is to make sure you're ready for Sunday, make sure you're ready for the game. At the end of the day, we've got great trainers. They're going to make sure that I go about doing things the right way as far as getting back on the field. I feel good about where I'm at.”

The Ravens' first-team defense fared well without Jernigan in its two series in last week's preseason opener. Rookie third-round pick Carl Davis, who filled in for Jernigan, was among the most dominant players for Baltimore.

But the return of Jernigan provides a boost for a depleted defensive line. He was back with the first-team defense on Monday, showing good explosion off the line.

"We have all the confidence that he can step in there and get the job done, no matter where we put him in the defensive front," defensive end Chris Canty said. "He brings a different element to our defensive front. He's quick twitch. He's got a lot of wiggle for a defensive lineman. That's one of the things that's a strong suit for his game, and really becomes a strength for the guys in our room."

Jernigan has become one of the more animated players for the Ravens. Earlier in camp, he stopped running back Lorenzo Taliaferro behind the line and celebrated with a yell along with a dance move.

"Any time I'm on the field, I try to go one speed," Jernigan said. "It's either you're going full speed or you're not doing nothing at all."