The Lawrence Timmons' hit on Steve Smith Sr. might not have been intentional. But was it within the rules?
The NFL reviews every play from every game for officiating and potential discipline purposes, so they'll surely take another look at Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons' sideline hit on Steve Smith Sr. last Thursday, which left the Ravens wide receiver with microfractures in his back and ribs area.
On the hit, Timmons appears to lead with the crown of his helmet and drives it into Smith's back. I don't think Timmons was trying to hurt Smith, but that doesn't mean the hit was legal, either.
According to Article 8, the rule on initiating contact with the crown of the helmet, "It is a foul if a runner or tackler initiates forcible contact by delivering a blow with the top/crown of his helmet against an opponent when both players are clearly outside the tackle box (an area extending from tackle to tackle and from three yards beyond the line of scrimmage to the offensive team's end line). Incidental contact by the helmet of a runner or tackler against an opponent shall not be a foul."
Was Timmons' contact incidental? Ravens coach John Harbaugh declined to comment on the play Monday, referring questions to the league. Fines usually are delivered by the end of the week.
After the game, Smith, describing the play, said, "I got speared in the back by an ex-teammate. I kind of know his character, who he is. After he hit me, he said, 'How do you like that?'"
Timmons is not an ex-teammate of Smith's, but Steelers safety Mike Mitchell played with Smith in Carolina. Many people have asked what led to the confusion. Smith hasn't been available to the media since immediately after last Thursday's game, but I assume that he initially believed it was Mitchell who hit him on the play.
If you watch the replay, Mitchell was the closest guy to Smith when he got up and tried to head back to the Ravens' huddle and the Steelers safety did clearly have something to say.
Jernigan needs consistency
The rap on defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan coming out of Florida State was that he can be dominant at times, but he struggles to maintain a high energy and effort level throughout the game. If Harbaugh's comments Monday are any indication, it's a reputation that Jernigan still needs to shake.
Asked about Jernigan yesterday by my colleague Jon Meoli, Harbaugh said that the second-year player has made recent strides, but the team still wants to see more.
"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, play fast. 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."
Jernigan has recently been replaced as a starter by rookie Carl Davis, and Harbaugh's quote probably provides the best explanation as to why.
I used this statistic in the story I wrote for Tuesday's paper about the Ravens' adjustments at the wide receiver position, but it's worth mentioning again, especially given how much attention will be on Joe Flacco's targets this week.
In his rookie season, Marlon Brown caught 49 passes for 524 yards and seven touchdowns and was targeted 82 times in 14 games. In parts of two seasons since, he's caught 32 balls for 330 yards and zero touchdowns and been targeted 46 times in 18 games.
It's not all been Brown's fault. He essentially fell down the depth chart following Smith's arrival last year, and he hasn't seemed to play with much confidence since. If there was ever a time where the Ravens need him to regain his rookie form, it is now.
Locals play well
This isn't Ravens related, but I'll pass it along anyway. Two former college standouts in the area made their NFL regular-season debuts Sundays, and both played extremely well. Former Towson defensive end Ryan Delaire, whom the Carolina Panthers signed off of the Washington Redskins' practice squad last week, had two sacks and five tackles in the Panthers' victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
And after being inactive for the Minnesota Vikings' first three games, former University of Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs had six catches for 87 yards in the Vikings' loss to the Denver Broncos.
I'm sure there will be plenty of time next week spent talking about wide receiver Torrey Smith ahead of the Ravens' matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. But Smith has also been in the news this week after the 49ers' loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Before catching a short pass late in the third quarter against the Packers, Smith had gone nearly seven quarters without a reception. The former Raven caught a 75-yard touchdown pass against the Steelers in Week 2, but has done little else and his frustration appears to be mounting.
Smith had some periods of struggles with the Ravens, but I've never seen him so visibly frustrated as he was last Sunday. After one incompletion, Smith stormed off the field and headed immediately to the bench, spurring a conversation with 49ers coach Jim Tomsula.
To his credit, Smith apologized Monday for what he acknowledged was "horrible" body language. Anquan Boldin, another former Raven, didn't look like a happy camper, either.