In Tim Jernigan's three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and three years at Florida State, his primary responsibility was occupying offensive linemen to keep linebackers clean and free to roam the field.
After the Ravens traded the 24-year-old Jernigan to the Eagles this week, he can prepare for a new role under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. And he said he's joining a scheme he's always wanted to play.
"This is my first time ever being told, 'Go,' " Jernigan said. "I'll prove my point."
The point is that he can be a difference-making defensive tackle, which is what the Eagles are hoping after they dropped 25 picks in the third round to add Jernigan.
"I'm ready, man," Jernigan said. "I've been waiting to play in this type of scheme for a while."
Jernigan said Schwartz told him that he would have "a big year," and that the coach has "big plans" for his new addition. Jernigan is expected to be in a defensive tackle rotation with Fletcher Cox and Beau Allen.
His 24 games of starting experience and the type of talent that warranted a second-round selection in 2014 could make him the front-runner to replace Bennie Logan in the starting lineup. That means he would line up next to Cox, who could make Sundays easier for Jernigan.
"Of course it will help," Jernigan said. "He's a dog. People are going to double him. He's going to cause attention. When you get attention and get double-teamed, you're free on the other side. I'm pretty confident I can win one-on-ones. I'm confident I can beat two people sometimes. I think we're going to complement each other."
Jernigan admitted he was "mind blown" when he awoke from a nap Tuesday to learn of the trade. After defensive lineman Brandon Williams signed a five-year, $52.5 million with the Ravens last offseason, Jernigan figured he might not remain in Baltimore for the duration of his career. The Ravens have other young linemen who were already intruding on his playing time. But he didn't think he'd be moving up Interstate 95 so soon.
"I knew after last year I would probably be gone," Jernigan said. "I wasn't thinking a couple months or a couple weeks I'd be out of there."
Jernigan didn't know why the Ravens dealt him, and he didn't seem interested in theorizing. He thinks both parties will be satisfied with the transaction.
When asked about his playing time dropping late last season - he played at least 62 percent of the snaps in eight of his first nine games and topped that percentage just once in the final seven games - Jernigan said he suffered a stinger in his shoulder when that decline started, and the injury nagged him for a few weeks. He didn't have much of an explanation otherwise and said his coaches and teammates would vouch for how hard he played. He also said he was not frustrated with how the season ended.
"I had the best year of my career last year. People don't want to mention that," said Jernigan, whose career-high five sacks came in the first nine games of the season. "The guys besides me had pretty good years. . . . I had no reason to be down at all."
He arrives in a scheme that he believes will showcase his pass-rush ability. It comes at an opportune time, considering Jernigan is a free agent at the end of the season. He said the contract year does not factor into how he thinks about this season or his new employer, and he's not wondering if the Eagles will be able to afford him after making major investments in defensive linemen such as Cox.
"I haven't even thought that far," Jernigan said. "I. understand the situation. Right now, my mind is on football and winning football games. The money part, that stuff will figure itself out. I'm not worried about that. I feel I'm doing pretty good in my life. I've seen more now than I've ever seen before. So I'm fine. . . . I want to prove that I'm one of the best."
Whatever contract the Eagles - or others - might offer will be determined by the way Jernigan plays this season. But the Eagles can already offer an opening at defensive tackle and a scheme that emphasizes defensive linemen attacking downfield. That might be why Jernigan's gold teeth glistened through his smile during his introduction Friday.
"I'm an Eagle now," Jernigan said. "Green and black is all that's on my mind. It's all I care about."