A ‘violent' Player, Tim Jernigan Poised to Make Significant Impact With Eagles

Tim Jernigan stretched black socks around his oversized feet before sliding them into an old, worn pair of faded Timberland boots that had been waiting for him in his locker while he was out sweating under the hot summer sun.  

Jernigan, perhaps one of the Eagles' most overlooked offseason additions, said he sometimes wears the Tims simply because they're easier to get on than sneakers after practice. 

But it's fitting that he wears work boots. It's almost surprising he doesn't bring a metal lunch pail with him daily to the NovaCare Complex. 

Jernigan, 24, claims he got his work ethic from his mother, Janice Stockton. As a youngster, he watched as she raised him and two of his older siblings - brother Jarred and sister Timeka - on her own. 

"No matter what, no matter the situations or circumstance, you just work through it," Jernigan said after a practice this week. "There's been days I don't want to practice or I don't feel like lifting weights or whatever the case may have been, but I think about where I come from and it's kind of humbling. I know I can work through anything." 

Stockton worked different jobs, "some nursing stuff" and at times at a convenience store to make ends meet. The family moved between Jacksonville, Lake City and Daytona, Florida, throughout Jernigan's childhood. "It was rough, man," he said. 

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But it shaped who he is today. 

"Just seeing what she went through," Jernigan said, "you always want to find a way to give back."

That work ethic has shown up since the Eagles traded for Jernigan in the spring. He was excited to play in Jim Schwartz's defensive system and pretty much hit the ground running when he got to Philly. 

In fact, Jernigan's "will to work" is the first thing that has stood out to his new batterymate Fletcher Cox. 

"He comes out every day to work and his energy and everything," Cox said. "He's just out there to learn. And he's catching on real fast. It's contagious. Everything is contagious out there, especially when you see a guy that wants to be better. It kind of pushes you to help that guy be better and pushes everyone else around you."

After being selected by the Ravens in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Florida State, Jernigan played in Baltimore's 3-4 defense for the first three years of his career. When he was drafted, Eagles head personnel man Joe Douglas was still with the Ravens. Jernigan is the Eagles' starting defensive tackle next to Cox, replacing Bennie Logan, who was a good player for four years in Philly. But Schwartz has said Jernigan might actually be a better complementary player next to Cox.

While Logan was solid, Jernigan has a reputation for being a fierce pass-rusher, which is important in Schwartz's defense that needs to get pressure from the front four. While Jernigan wasn't asked to attack as much in Baltimore, Schwartz said he could see his ability to do so on third downs, when the Ravens unleashed him. 

What kind of player is Jernigan? 

"He's a violent player," backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao said. "That's the type of player he is."

Jernigan is on the last year of his four-year rookie contract, so he's either just a rental player or will sign a deal to remain with the team past 2017. We might not know for a while. 

But in 2017, he stands to make as big of an impact as any of the newcomers on the team. And he's off to a good start. 

"I think the thing that shows through with Tim is that he's mentally tough as well as physically tough," Jim Schwartz said. "When you rush the passer, and it's late in practice or it's late in a game and it's 90 degrees and humid, it's got to come from somewhere other than just effort. It's got to come from some mental toughness. He has that."

Jernigan can thank his mama for it. 

"She's proud of me," he said, "and I definitely want to keep making her proud."

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