Notebook: Pernell McPhee Returns To The Field


Ray Lewis called out to Defensive Line Coach Clarence Brooks.

"Hey, C.B., who's that new football player you got over there? No. 90?" he joked.

It was none other than defensive end Pernell McPhee, who returned to practice for the first time since having a minor knee procedure. He hasn't participated on the field since spring Organized Team Activities.

McPhee did not participate in full-team 11-on-11 drills because the team is breaking him back slowly.

"Very happy that Pernell McPhee's starting to work back in," Harbaugh said. "Very excited to see him back. He is an important part of our defense and we need him in there. But he needs a lot of work too."

McPhee was second on the team with six sacks last season as a rookie fifth-round pick. The expectations have grown for him this year, as he is in a battle for the starting defensive end position with Art Jones.

Missing the first week of camp has more of the focus on Jones, but McPhee is ready get into the mix.

"You can't do nothing but go out there and be hungry and compete every play. You can't feel like they're ahead of you even though they are. I've got to go out there and block all that out and play like it's Day 1 for all of us."

McPhee said the Ravens had him add weight this offseason, with the goal of turning him into more of a three-down defensive end as opposed to the strict pass rusher he was last season.

Listed at 280 pounds last offseason, McPhee says he's up to 292.

"It's all good weight. It ain't no bad weight," he said.

McPhee expects to get on the field for team drills soon. He says he's just knocking off the rust right now, but that his body feels at 100 percent and he's mentally sharp.

"[Being out there today] just got me excited because they know they're getting one of the guys that contributed to the defense last year back," McPhee said. "I'm one step away."

Ngata's Return Is 'Pretty Close'

Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata still hasn't gotten on the field, missing six practices of training camp.

But that could change soon.

"Haloti's coming along," he said. "Haloti thinks he's pretty close. We're probably working him a little slower than he'd like us to. He's starting to run now and I think he's going to be fine very soon."

Ngata tweaked his hamstring before the start of camp. His wife also gave birth to their second son, Haloti Maximus, this week.

Another Good Day For Tucker

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker continued to hit field goals more often than veteran incumbent Billy Cundiff Wednesday.

Tucker went 7-for-7, including one successful kick that was waived off when the defense had too many men on the field. He ended the day's practice with a 44-yarder in a simulated overtime period.

The former Longhorn connected from 35, 41, 44, 47 and 55 yards and has missed* *twice thus far in camp. Tucker also showed off his punting skills during the practice, something he also did some of in college.

Cundiff was 4-for-5 on the day. He connected on a 55-yard attempt, drawing applause from the crowd, but missed wide right from 43 yards out.

How much does each kick matter during training camp?

"We put weight on everything," Harbaugh said. "Guys get evaluated on everything they do, even the drills. … We know the stats inside and out and you certainly factor all that in."

Harbaugh said kicks in preseason games will hold more weight.

Secondary Continues To Shine

The Ravens secondary had another strong performance Wednesday.

Lardarius Webb intercepted one pass and got physical with Anquan Boldin on another. Corey Graham continued*to impress, also out-*muscling Boldin to a ball.

Ed Reed stripped Jacoby Jones on one pass, picked off Joe Flacco in the end zone to end one two-minute drill and took a lateral for six points.

Tight Ends Stand Out

With Dennis Pitta (broken hand) out, the other tight ends are stepping up in practice.

Ed Dickson was hot early in one two-minute drill, catching back-to-back passes to get the first-team offense moving.

Rookie free agent tight end Matt Balsavage caught a tough pass in traffic before getting popped so hard by rookie free agent Omar Brown that his helmet popped off. Balsavage got up as if nothing happened.

Harbaugh praised backup tight end Davon Drew after practice, saying he's "come so far." Harbaugh said they're trying to determine whether Drew can become a blocking tight end, which could determine whether he would be kept as a third tight end.

Newly-signed veteran tight end Billy Bajema was on the field and wearing No. 86, but did not practice on his first day.

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