"Next man up" is a phrase you hear often around Ravens headquarters shortly after an injury.
The Ravens expect that when a player goes down, regardless of how vital he was to their success, the guy who fills in for him will step up to the task and get the job done.
With Tavares Gooden out for at least a few weeks with a shoulder injury, the next man up to fill his spot at inside linebacker is Jason Phillips, the 2009 fifth-round pick out of TCU.
Gooden is best in coverage, where he can use his speed down the field. Phillips is the opposite - he's stronger in the run game - but says that he's willing to help out in whatever situation the coaches need him.
"[I'll] just do whatever they ask me to do," Phillips said of his new opportunity. "If they put me out there in sub, play good against the pass. If they put me in Raven, just make some tackles in the run game. Just know every detail of my playbook, and try to perform like they want me to."
Phillips has yet to see game action since being drafted last year. He spent the entire 2009 season on Injured Reserve with a knee injury, and has been a gameday inactive for the first two weeks of this season. The 24-year-old admits that he's eagerly anticipating this new opportunity to step in and play.
"I'm having a little trouble sleeping at night thinking about it," he says. "But that's part of the NFL - just waiting your turn and then when you get your opportunity, you have to make the best of it. So that's what I'm going to try to do.
"Sitting out those first two games and just kind of getting a feel for how things go in-season and actually in a real game was cool, but I definitely wanted to be out there the last couple weeks. So to be able to get my chance this week, I'm just going to try to make the most of it."
The son of a coach, Phillips is a smart player, one who is very instinctual at the snap. But he's seen improvements in his game since being drafted last year, which he thinks will benefit him now that he's thrust into action.
"There's a lot of little aspects of my game that weren't quite good enough my first year," Phillips said. "Just from the way I read to not being too quick on some things. One of the main things I learned was just to be patient and let things develop. So this last year and a few months has been a good learning experience for me."