“I always grew up watching Warren Sapp. I looked up to him. I definitely wanted to model my game after him," said Ravens Timmy Jernigan when asked why he changed his jersey number to 99, the same as Sapp. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan set a goal to make the Pro Bowl last season, his second year in the NFL.
Though Jernigan was one of the team's more productive young players, he played in 15 games and started just six.
So the one-time second-round pick out of Florida State has his eyes on the dream again.
"I won't stop until I get there," Jernigan said. "Sometimes you come up short of something, and it's only gonna do two things — it's either going to make you or it's going to break you. It definitely opened my eyes to how hard it is to get there, and it ain't easy to get there."
Jernigan also has a new jersey number, 99, to match his new work ethic. Jernigan wanted the number as a rookie, but Chris Canty already had it. Now, with Canty gone, it's all Jernigan's.
The motivation comes from Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp, whom Jernigan grew up watching and trying to emulate (and who made seven Pro Bowls).
"Just the way he played the game — nasty, ferocious — he came every play," Jernigan said of the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer. "You definitely knew he was there when he made a play."
Jernigan hopes to build on his first two years, during which he has totaled eight sacks.
Though the primary source of motivation for the Ravens in their first week of OTAs is their 5-11 record from last season.
"You wake up, and you have to think about it every day," Jernigan said. "Every day you walk through these doors, you're thinking about, 'Man, we went 5-11 last year.' … If I want to take a break, that's what I think about."
Jernigan's new drive has manifested itself in extra workouts in the offseason. Back in northern Florida, Jernigan did more power cleans and Olympic lifts, in addition to running stairs in his old high school stadium.
Defensive line coach Joe Cullen also has higher expectations for Jernigan, suddenly one of the more experienced players on the defensive line.
"He starts drills, 'Timmy, get up first,'" Jernigan said. "If he sees me even think about slacking, 'Timmy, tighten it up.'"