The Ravens defensive line got a boost yesterday as defensive end Timmy Jernigan returned to practice.
Sidelined for over a week, the second-year defensive end’s status for Sunday’s game in Denver is unknown at this time, but the Ravens will surely need his presence in the trenches against Peyton Manning and company on Sunday.
Following practice on Thursday, Jernigan offered little insight into his availability, but feels he will be ready to go against the Broncos if given the green light.
“I think it’s going to be a real close call,” he said. “I’ve got a good feeling about it. It feels pretty good – just the little bit of reps I did at practice. The biggest thing is just seeing how long I can go for and making sure that thing doesn’t give out after a while.”
Hampered by knee injuries (missing a total of four games) since the Ravens selected him in the second round of the 2014 draft, Jernigan is being relied upon as key starter along the defensive line after the Ravens traded veteran Haloti Ngata this offseason.
“That’s part of the game, though,” said Jernigan when asked about how much responsibility the team has put on him with the stops and starts this preseason due to injuries. “That’s not saying I’m a horrible player because I got hurt or anything; that just means I got hurt.
“That’s something I can’t control. When I’m out there for the four quarters, if I don’t do what I said I would do, then I could be able to answer that question for you a little bit better.”
Last season, the Florida State standout gave the Ravens all the reassurance they needed when put into service. Seeing action in 12 games, including three starts, the then-rookie contributed 23 tackles (11 solo) and four sacks (-27 yards) for a defense that finished tied for second in the league (with Philadelphia) with 49 sacks (Buffalo – 54).
His four sacks in 2014 are the most by a Ravens’ rookie DT in team history, per the Ravens official team stats, while Pro Football Focus gave the youngster a +12.1 overall grade for the season.
For now, as the Ravens hold their final practice before leaving for their 2015 season opener, Jernigan remains focused and happy to be back.
“It felt great. Of course, it’s kind of aggravating not being able to be out there [recently] and to miss game reps. But, it felt good to be back out there today and able to get around and move around a little bit.”
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