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Healthier this year, Ravens linebacker Pernell McPhee having impressive camp

His knees no longer ache the way they used to.

Unlike his first two NFL offseasons, when he had knee and groin procedures, Ravens outside linebacker Pernell McPhee didn't have to undergo any surgeries this offseason.

And McPhee attributes his health as a large factor toward what's arguably been his best all-around training camp so far in terms of consistently applying pressure as a pass rusher and stopping the run.

"I think I'm having an awesome camp," McPhee said. "Everything, running, moving, being more physical. I just thank God I have an opportunity to come out here and compete.

"I've had a very good camp and I'm making a lot of plays. It showed from the preseason game and hopefully the next preseason game and against the 49ers I get even better."

Entering the final year of his four-year, $2.194 million rookie contract, McPhee has recorded 66 career tackles and 9.5 sacks. That includes a rookie season in 2011 when the former Mississippi State standout finished second on the team with six sacks.

Last year, McPhee had just two sacks and 21 tackles with one forced fumble. He played in every game, but his effectiveness was hampered by his health. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder has gained 4 to 5 pounds from last season but has upgraded his mobility.

"I trained hard. I'm in shape," said McPhee, a native of Pahokee, Fla., where he had 19 sacks as a senior in his only season of high school football. "That's the best thing. My knees are feeling great, feeling awesome. I've been praying about them, and they're cooperating."

McPhee has displayed better moves during practice, and he generated some pressure during a 23-3 win Thursday night over the San Francisco 49ers. Although he's the backup to Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, McPhee figures to have a role this season as a pass rusher in the Ravens' substitution packages.

"Pernell has done really well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Pernell McPhee is a big, physical edge-setter. Of course, I think he could have done better. We had that conversation already. To me, Pernell McPhee can be a premier outside 'backer in the National Football League. That's our ambition for him this year, and I know that's what he expects from himself."

awilson@baltsun.com

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