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Pernell McPhee Aiming To Lead Ravens In Sacks

Posted Jul 8, 2014

The fourth-year OLB hasn’t had any offseason surgeries for the first time since his big rookie year.


How can Pernell McPhee get back to his rookie form when he had six sacks?

That’s not the question he’s thinking about.

McPhee’s got larger goals heading into the 2014 season.

“My individual goal is to hopefully lead the team in sacks,” McPhee said.

“That’s going to be hard to do when you have Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw and Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata on the field. It’s going to be hard, but that’s my personal expectation. I want to get at least seven or eight sacks this year.”

McPhee finished second on the team in sacks as a rookie in 2011. Only Terrell Suggs beat him with 14.

Since then, McPhee has a total of 3.5 sacks. As a sophomore, he started six of 12 games and recorded 1.5 sacks. Last year, he played in all 16 games (none as a starter) and had two sacks.

Part of McPhee’s troubles the past two seasons have been injuries. He had knee surgery after his rookie year, then groin surgery last offseason. This will be the first offseason where he won’t be coming off any major medical procedure.

“I want to stay healthy and play every play, play like it’s my last,” McPhee said. “I feel great right now, but there’s no telling when I’ll start hurting. I just want to play every play like it’s my last.”

Another hindrance to McPhee’s progression is that he plays at one of the team’s deepest positions. With Suggs, Dumervil and Upshaw all ahead of him on the depth chart, McPhee played just 313 snaps last year. He never took more than half the snaps in a game.

McPhee was asked about how he envisions himself being worked into the outside linebacker rotation.

“Working in? I’m not working in nothing,” he said. “I’m going to go take something.”

McPhee got positive grades from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for his pass-rush productivity when he was on the field. While he had just two sacks last year, McPhee was credited with 15 hurries and seven quarterback hits.

McPhee worked diligently to improve his hand-play last season, taking lessons from defensive end Chris Canty. This summer, he said he’s been working a lot on his footwork and can notice the difference.

“I’ve got some serious footwork – it’s stupid,” McPhee said. “It’s going to be hard for people to block me one-on-one all the way from the right tackle to the left tackle – even the centers and the guards.

“People look at the film. It’s not every play, but the majority of this offseason has been ridiculous. Some of them, it’s like, ‘Did he even touch ‘Phee?’”

McPhee’s health and maturation as a player has him excited. He will likely be used as a situational player in one of the Ravens’ multiple defensive schemes.

“It’s going to be fun,” he said. “It’s a whole other level.”

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