Apparently, it will take more for Ravens defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to impress Hall of Fame defensive lineman Warren Sapp.
Jernigan has changed his number this year from 97 to 99 in tribute to Sapp, who wore that number. But when the Ravens tweeted about it last night, Sapp replied in objection.
“I always grew up watching Warren Sapp,” Jernigan told reporters Thursday after OTA practice (but before Sapp's retort). “I definitely wanted to model my game after him.”
Maybe it’s a rivalry thing for the older player. Sapp went to the University of Miami, while Jernigan went to Florida St.
Whatever the case, Jernigan feels ready to make a major leap in his game. His body looked more chiseled than last year Thursday, the result of weight lifting and running stadium steps in the hot Florida sun at Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., Jernigan’s hometown.
“I’ve been doing a lot of stuff that kind of got me here,” Jernigan said. “This offseason I started doing a little bit more power cleans, the Olympic lifts, and getting back to running stadiums and stuff like that when I go home in that 100 degree Florida weather. I like to get out there when it’s hotter than hot so days like this don’t really bother me.”
Jernigan has shown flashes of the big-play ability he had in college, with four sacks in each of his first two seasons with the Ravens, after being a second-round pick in 2014. But for Jernigan to reach another level, he will have to show more consistency, durability, and stamina.
Making the Pro Bowl is one of Jernigan’s goals. But a bigger goal is helping the Ravens return to the playoffs.
“Every day we walk through those doors we’re thinking about, ‘Man, we went 5-11 last year,’’’ Jernigan said. “When I want to take a break, that’s what I think about. It’s not acceptable. The players don’t accept it. The coaches don’t accept it. Nobody in this organization does, so it’s definitely on our mind every day.”
Jernigan believes this is the year for his game to break out.
“Just have to become that force that I was drafted to be,” Jernigan said.
That is Jernigan’s mindset. Regardless of what Sapp thinks.