His fisticuffs with offensive tackle Oniel Cousins on Monday notwithstanding, rookie defensive end Pernell McPhee has already distinguished himself with Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano.
A fifth-round pick, McPhee had a sack in the team's 13-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night that was overturned after review and turned into a quarterback hit. He finished with one tackle and has had a smattering of sacks in training camp while backing up defensive end Cory Redding on the left side.
Asked about McPhee on Monday, Pagano said he "plays like a Raven."
"He's soaking everything up, and then he comes out to practice, and he's just going at a thousand miles per hour," Pagano said. "He's nonstop, and he's getting better every day. I think his production in the game is just a byproduct of what he's doing during the week."
McPhee said his goal is to put forth consistent effort in practice and preseason games.
"They see me doing the same thing getting after the quarterback, and if I can go out in a game and do that, and if I stay consistent with it, then I think that will really impress them," he said.
To further his development, McPhee said he has frequently sought counsel from Redding, who has been tutoring the rookie on reading blocks and using footwork to get past blockers. McPhee said the biggest adjustment for him has been the sobering lesson that his athleticism is no longer a constant advantage on the NFL level.
"Sometimes I don't have any legs, and some of the guys are like, 'You've got to know how to practice and know how to use more technique than effort,'" he said. "A lot of guys know how to use more technique on certain plays. So I've still got a lot to learn."
As for McPhee's most notable play against the Eagles, he said he thought he sacked Mike Kafka before the quarterback's arm moved forward. A instant replay review overturned the sack and wiped out cornerback Lardarius Webb's 93-yard return for a touchdown.
"I thought it was a sack and fumble," McPhee said. "I timed it up. When I saw him step up to let it go, I just reached out and laid out and hit his arm. So I really thought it was a fumble."
Lewis excused from practice
Ray Lewis was excused from the team so he could deal with a family member's illness.
There is no timetable for the inside linebacker's return. He wasn't at Wednesday's practice as the team prepares for Friday's preseason home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
"It's something he has to take care of," coach John Harbaugh said.
Right guard Marshal Yanda missed his fifth straight day of practice, and although Harbaugh said Yanda's back spasms are "not a serious thing," he won't play against the Chiefs and his status for next week's preseason game against the Washington Redskins is unclear.
"You know Marshal, he'll want to [practice next week]," Harbaugh said. "If we have to hold him back, it will basically be us holding him back. But he's going to be out this week, and it's not a serious thing. He's not going to be out for the regular season or anything like that, and he'll probably play next week."
More flexibility for Flacco
One of the criticisms about the Ravens offense last season was the lack of control quarterback Joe Flacco had to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
That has apparently changed, according to Harbaugh, who said Wednesday that Flacco has more flexibility to audible.
"I think we've seen that a lot," Harbaugh said. "It's just been built into the offense in the offseason. I said it last year a lot, that there's more stuff in there than you realize, but there's more this year. I think [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] and the offensive coaches have done a great job of building the offense in a way that Joe really has the choice almost every play."
Harbaugh said that at least half the plays that have been called in training camp involve Flacco making a choice.
"He changes a run to another direction," Harbaugh said. "He changes a run to a pass. He changes a pass to a maximum protection or back to a run, and he's done a great job with that."
Harbaugh confirmed Wednesday that many of the starters would play well into the second quarter Friday night. "We have a shorter offseason, we didn't have any OTAs [Organized Team Activities]," he said. "We need to get ready to play. We're going to be playing a regular-season game very soon." … The Chiefs signed three Ravens free agents this offseason — nose tackle Kelly Gregg, fullback Le'Ron McClain and offensive tackle Jared Gaither — just seven months after getting routed, 30-7, by the Ravens in the playoffs. Did getting manhandled by the Ravens in the postseason lead Kansas City to sign players from that team? "A coincidence," Chiefs coach Todd Haley told Kansas City reporters. "Now, again, if you're able to acquire players that you think can fit with what you're doing, and they're coming from teams that are winning-type teams, I think that's a good thing." … As late as Wednesday, undrafted rookie Justin Boren was lining up at right guard, sandwiched by center Bryan Mattison and rookie right tackle Jah Reid on the first offense. So could Boren be in line to play in place of Yanda? "I don't know," Boren said. "That's up to them. We haven't talked about it. When they tell me to go in there with the ones, I'll go in there with the ones, and I'll try to do my best. If they're willing to give me that opportunity, it'd be great. If not, I'm happy to just play my role."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun