Pernell McPhee has not played football on Sundays in nearly a month. Battling knee issues and a thigh injury of late the play-making sophomore has not been at 100% all season and needed some time to heal up for the Ravens stretch run towards the playoffs.
McPhee stated his frustration earlier this season as he openly declared disappointment in his on field production. He attributed his decline in play since last season to nagging injuries that were keeping him from being as explosive as he he was in his surprise rookie season. In his rookie campaign he ended the season second on the team in sacks with six.
"I feel like I’m ready, I feel like I’m 100 percent," McPhee told media Thursday.
McPhee returned to practice for the first time since the week before the Houston Texans game on October 21st. Now, the Ravens starting defensive end says he is feeling 100% for the first time this season and is ready to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks again.
"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."
"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.
The Ravens have been extremely thin along the defensive line of late. This past Sunday, against the Oakland Raiders rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw was forced to play along the defensive line for some time and actually played quite well.
This week the team could not only see the return of the old Pernell McPhee but also the return of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata who sat out last week against Oakland although he was dressed and ready to play if the team needed him. The return of Ngata and McPhee could serve as a huge boost to the Ravens pass rush with Paul Kruger starting to hit his stride and Terrell Suggs getting a little better each week since his return from injury. This weeks game could mark the first time all four players start together since Suggs' return.
The Ravens are starting to look thin in the secondary due to the loss of Lardarius Webb for the season and Jimmy Smith for several weeks. The return of the Ravens starting defensive line could limit the pressure on those in the secondary that have been called upon to replace them, including new addition Chris Johnson who the Ravens signed this week. It is unclear whether Johnson will play this week but it is clear that he is a player the Ravens have wanted to acquire for some time since rumors have leaked that they attempted a trade for him last season.
"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.
For now, Pernell is saying all the right things and with any luck he will be suiting up on Sunday beside Ngata, Suggs and Kruger.