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Pernell McPhee Preparing For Bigger Role


While his teammates are off, Pernell McPhee is at the Under Armour Performance Center.

He's rehabbing from a reported minor knee injury and getting in workouts. Most importantly, he's preparing to step into a bigger role this year.

The fifth-round draft pick was used as a pass rusher last year. He'll probably see more snaps with the departure of defensive end Cory Redding and the team looking for pass-rush help with Terrell Suggs slated to miss some time.

Asked whether he'll be physically able to handle a lot more snaps this year, McPhee said, "most definitely."

"I could have handled more snaps [last year]," McPhee said. "We had a veteran group, and a lot of guys I respect. … Corey would say, 'Hey young gun, go in there and do your thing. I'll handle the run. You handle the pass.' We had that understanding."

McPhee burst onto the scene last year after showing strong pass-rush skills in training camp and the preseason. He played half of the Ravens' defensive snaps in their season-opener against Pittsburgh.

The Mississippi State product caught fire midway through the season, notching three sacks and 10 quarterback pressures between Weeks 10 and 13. He had a game-saving sack against Cincinnati, and two sacks in Cleveland.

McPhee's impact trailed off in the final four games and two playoff contests, however.

He didn't record a sack during that time, and according to Pro Football Focus, had logged just 25 snaps in the playoffs. It was perhaps a sign of hitting the infamous "rookie wall."

McPhee is also shaping his game from being just a pass rusher to more of a well-rounded defensive end.

Some of the run-stopping responsibility could be taken by defensive end Art Jones or defensive tackle Ryan McBean on early rushing downs.

But McPhee has shown the potential to stand up against the run in college. He had 56 tackles as a junior and 32 as a senior with just seven sacks over the two seasons at Mississippi State.

"I'm working on my all-over game: run stop, pass rush, mentally, physically," McPhee said.

"I'm trying to find ways I can play different styles of football, as far as playing the run and the pass. Every year you get to know something new about yourself, what you can do and can't do."

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