The Ravens could be close to getting a key piece back along their defensive front.
Starting defensive end Pernell McPhee says that he's 100 percent healthy after sitting out the last two weeks with a thigh injury.
"I feel like I'm ready, I feel like I'm 100 percent," McPhee told media Thursday.
The second-year defender returned to practice in a limited capacity Wednesday. It was the first time he's practiced since the week prior to the Texans game on Oct. 21.
"He's getting closer," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Wednesday. "We'll see how he does this week."
McPhee hasn't played in nearly a month (including the bye week), and he said that the time off has helped the healing process. It also provided an opportunity to allow lingering knee issues to improve after having offseason knee surgery.
"It helped me out a lot," McPhee said. "The first time I went out to practice yesterday and I didn't have on a knee brace and I felt very comfortable going out running the drills, during one-on-one drills, doing individual drills."
Prior to his time off, McPhee said that the injuries limited his explosiveness.
After getting some work in on Wednesday, McPhee is starting to see the explosiveness return.
"I think the quickness is back because we were out doing drills and coach told me I look pretty good and I was moving pretty good so I think it's coming back," he said.
Getting him back in the lineup could come at the right time for the Ravens, who are also dealing with the injury to Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (shoulder), who sat out Sunday's game. Ngata was also a limited participant in practice Wednesday.
The return of McPhee and Ngata would be critical for the Ravens, especially after starting cornerback went down with a groin injury and had surgery this week. Getting a pass rush on Steelers backup quarterback Byron Leftwich will be key, and could help soften the blow of Smith's injury.
"As long as I get back healthy, we get [Terrell] Suggs and [Paul] Kruger one-on-ones on the outside, and me and Haloti take care of the middle, I think we will be able to hold up on the back end," McPhee said.