A year ago as a rookie, Ravens defensive end Pernell McPhee emerged as a scourge of AFC North quarterbacks.
He recorded six sacks to finish second on the third-ranked defense in the NFL.
Now, though, McPhee's frustration is bubbling over, as he's been unable to replicate that success after two arthroscopic surgeries on his right knee and weight gain that have robbed him of his quickness and closing speed.
"Hell yeah, it bothers me," said McPhee, who's roughly 290 pounds, 10 pounds heavier than last season. "It ain't no secret. I came in with high expectations. I'm not doing it. I'm disappointed in my play.
"When I watch film, it ain't like I'm getting pushed around. I know what's going on and I don't have a lot of explosion right now. I'm kinda slow off the ball."
The former Mississippi State standout has just a half-sack in seven games and 16 tackles. The sack he split was in the first game of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.
McPhee acknowledged that his surgically repaired knee is a major factor in his regression as a player this year.
He underwent one surgery during the spring and another clean-up procedure prior to training camp.
"It's got a lot to do with it," he said. "If you can't come off the ball, how can you make a play? If you're slow off the ball, or a step off the ball, how could you make the play? I'm just trying to come off the ball and fit into the defense. I'm a soldier and this is an army right here. We need every soldier we got. I feel like no matter what that if I can walk or move, I'm going to go out there and play.
"Physically, it's hard because it ain't about how you think you feel physically. It's about how you go out there, and how you think you can take on those physical challenges. This right here hurts, that right there hurts. Mentally, I feel great coming back in. Physically, it is what it is. I just have to fight through what I'm fighting through." McPhee has 16 tackles, including a career-high four solo stops in a 31-29 win over the Dallas Cowboys. However, McPhee has no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries after finishing with one apiece last season. Just when McPhee was starting to feel close to 100 percent again, he took a helmet to his knee on the first defensive snap of the game against the Bengals. "I just got to get over this hump and start playing my type of football, and stop worrying about all the other things and just play ball," he said. "Right now, mentally I feel 90 percent. There's no telling how I feel until I actually go play. "That's the nature of the body. Wear and tear of the season, nicks and bruises. Everybody's dealing with nicks and bruises. That's what it is. You just have to fight through it." firstname.lastname@example.org/RavensInsiderCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun