Scattershooting about the Ravens during two days of joint practices with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Under Armour Performance Center, all leading up to Thursday night’s preseason opener between the teams at M&T Bank Stadium:
Apologies for using a financial metaphor on the day after such a precipitous market decline, but if asked to identify one member of the Ravens whose stock is up, I’d point to Pernell McPhee.
The veteran linebacker sat unsigned on the open market for two months before the Ravens grabbed him in May for a bargain price. The rest of the league obviously had doubts about how much he could contribute at age 30, but the Ravens, who know a few things about defense, really like what they’re seeing.
On the team’s initial depth chart of 2019, McPhee is listed as the starting rush-end linebacker – Terrell Suggs’ old job. Practicing against the Jaguars Monday afternoon, he McPhee lined up mostly right where Suggs did for so many years.
He was brought in primarily to bolster the pass rush, or so we thought. But the Ravens believe he can contribute just as much as an edge-setter against the run, an underrated aspect of replacing Suggs.
“He’s really a tone-setter in terms of the run game. He’s strong. He’s powerful setting edges,” Joe Cullen, the team’s defensive line coach, said Monday. “He’s also going to work inside in some sub-situations, as you’ve seen before.”
Defensive Coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale called McPhee one of the Ravens’ “pillars.”
“He’s the old-school Raven that we need,” Martindale said.
As for the other pass-rush candidates, Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams took some snaps with the top-tier defense Monday, an indication that they might be able to carve out roles. Bowser delivered the defensive play of the day, grabbing a tipped pass for an interception and racing untouched to the end zone.
At this point, Bowser and Williams seemingly are ahead of veteran Shane Ray and rookie Jaylon Ferguson, both of whom are listed as third-teamers on the depth chart. But McPhee is ahead of them all.