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Trimmer Pernell McPhee Enjoying New Role

Posted Jun 17, 2013

Pernell McPhee envisions more of a pass-rushing role at outside linebacker.

Pernell McPhee feels like he’s undergoing “a new change in life."

He has shifted from playing defensive end to outside linebacker, playing more of a stand-up role in the Ravens defense behind Terrell Suggs.

After a tough 2012 season, the change has McPhee thinking big.

“It’s a new style of play, new position coach, new year, new everything,” McPhee said at the conclusion of minicamp. “There are zero stats. You can be Defensive MVP, a Pro Bowler. Who knows? Why not?”

McPhee was a big-bodied college defensive end. At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, he added bulk last season, when he competed with Arthur Jones for a starting position.

The change didn’t work out largely because of injuries. McPhee, who finished second on the team with six sacks as a rookie in 2011, notched just 1.5 sacks and 21 tackles last year.

Knee injuries erased McPhee’s offseason last year, then flared up and caused him to miss four regular-season games midway through the year. Now McPhee is healthy, and focused on getting back at the quarterback.

His change to more of a rush linebacker should help with that. McPhee said he’s the same weight he was last year, but trimmer and more muscular.

Asked for his opinion of his new position, McPhee said, “It’s cool, it’s good.”

“I won’t know until we put on pads and we have to cover people,” he said. “Anybody can be a football player without pads. When you put on those pads, that’s going to determine it. It comes down to how fast can I move with the pads on, cover and get in my drops, know my reads.”

But most of all, McPhee anticipates seeing more pass-rush abilities this year.

It’s where he has excelled in the past. Before his six sacks as a rookie, McPhee posted seven sacks at Mississippi State. In 18 games at Itawamba Community College, he logged 32.5 sacks. He led the nation with 13.5 sacks in 2008.

“That’s how I eat and I’m going to keep it like that,” McPhee said. “Put me down in that three-point stance and go after the quarterback.”

Veteran addition Elvis Dumervil, who sits at the locker next to McPhee, has taken the young linebacker under his wing. The two lift weights together and spend extra time after practice doing football exercises.

The work seemed to pay off, as McPhee looked to have good burst and still held the edge well during the Ravens’ three minicamp practices.

“The guy’s been working really hard, man,” Dumervil said.

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