Pernell McPhee Handling Increased Expectations

Pernell McPhee won’t catch teams by surprise, but he knows what to expect this year.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Categories: 2012 Offseason, Garrett Downing

Pernell McPhee caught some people by surprise last year.

As a fifth-round draft pick, the defensive end out of Mississippi State proved to be a hidden gem for the Ravens, finishing second on the team with six sacks.

Now word about McPhee is out – he’s even been selected by FOXSports as the Ravens’ breakout player this season – and he won’t catch teams off guard.

The expectations for him have grown, especially with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs out for an unspecified amount of time with an Achilles injury.

“I think after the fifth game, I stopped catching teams by surprise last year,” McPhee said after a recent offseason workout. “Now I know what to expect. I know what the coaches expect. I’m just here trying to be focused and trying to go to work.”

In Suggs’ absence, McPhee is a candidate to take over as the team’s sack leader.

But he also sees himself as doing more than chasing down quarterbacks. 

“I plan on playing more than just a pass rushing role,” McPhee said. “That’s T-Sizzle, Defensive Player of the Year last year, so it’s going to be really hard to fill in his shoes. We just got to help out the guys who are filling in his shoes and go out and play ball.”

Last year McPhee played behind starting end Cory Redding, rotating in to provide fresh legs on the line.

Having the chance to learn behind a veteran like Redding was a valuable experience for McPhee.

“I learned a lot,” McPhee said. “You got to always stay humble in this game and you’ve always got to compete every day.”

Redding left in free agency this offseason, so even before the injury to Suggs, McPhee’s playing time was expected to increase.

He will compete with third-year lineman Arthur Jones for the starting defensive end spot, but right now he isn’t concerned about where his name ends up on the depth chart.

“It’s just a blessing and an opportunity to go out and show my gift that I got out there on the field,” McPhee said. “I’m just going to let it roll out there from training camp, and whatever happens, it just happens – if I start or if I don’t, more plays or not.”

With Suggs down, fans are looking to McPhee as a likely candidate to make up the sack total, even though the two play different positions.  

McPhee, however, insists that the individual statistics aren’t his top concern.

“I don’t have individual goals, not right now,” McPhee said. “My goal is to come in and make the defense seem like they gained a step.

“I just want to go out and play ball and try to win a championship.”

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