The starting defensive tackle spot was presumed to belong to Timmy Jernigan as the Ravens sought to replace defensive tackle Haloti Ngata after his offseason trade to the Detroit Lions.
But after one game as the starter upon his return from a knee injury that kept him out in Week 1 against the Denver Broncos, Jernigan has ceded the starting spot to rookie defensive tackle Carl Davis.
Davis played twice as many snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers (35, to Jernigan's 17), with Jernigan seeing most of his snaps in a third-down, pass-rush role while Davis played as an every down run-stopper
Jernigan, a 2014 second-round pick, doesn't seemed thrilled with his role — he declined to speak after Thursday's win over the Steelers. However, coach John Harbaugh indicated he could be on a path toward re-assuming a larger role in the defense.
"I think Timmy is getting better and better," Harbaugh said. "He really stepped it up the last week or so, in practice and in games. 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."
Jernigan showed as much as a rookie, when he was an every down force in Ngata's absence late in the season and had four sacks, eight quarterback hits and a dozen hurries.
"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," Harbaugh said. "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."
Perhaps with the Ravens' pass rush issues without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, the presence of Davis makes it so they can just use Jernigan as an inside pass-rusher without the run responsibilities that come with an every down player.
But it's clear from these comments that Harbaugh still expects more as Jernigan ramps up his second season.