Ravens John Harbaugh on the possibility of linebacker Pernell McPhee being out for the season with a torn triceps.
When outside linebacker Pernell McPhee exited Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks with what would later be revealed as a season-ending torn triceps, the development timetable for young linebackers Tyus Bowser and Jaylon Ferguson was once again accelerated.
With McPhee, who left in the first half of Sunday’s 30-16 win over the Seahawks, out of the lineup, Bowser played 22 defensive snaps, one fewer than his season high. Ferguson was on the field for a season-high 46 snaps.
As the team looks to fill the void of McPhee, one of the team’s top edge setters and pass rushers, as well as a veteran voice, Bowser and Ferguson were among the many names mentioned as primed for a larger role.
“Jaylon played very well,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference. “He played his best game — a very physical game and against a couple of really big, grabby tackles, to say the least. He was strong at the point of attack and applied pressure, ran to the ball.
“Tyus was all over the field. He had pressures. He had tackles. Did he have a sack? I don’t think he had a sack, but he got some quarterback hits.”
Both Bowser, a third-year player, and Ferguson, the team’s third-round draft pick in April, finished with three tackles and applied consistent pressure on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
It was the kind of game Harbaugh envisioned, weeks after publicly demanding better play from Bowser and outside linebacker Tim Williams, who was released at the beginning of the month and has since signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Defensive lineman Jihad Ward, who has played significant snaps since signing with the team Oct. 7, and defensive tackle Brandon Williams, are also expected to help take on McPhee’s role as an interior pass rusher.
Williams has built a reputation as one of the league’s best run-stuffers, but defensive line coach Joe Cullen said Williams, who registered two quarterback hits Sunday, “played his best game as a Raven in a long time since I’ve been here.”
“Run and pass, [Williams] gave us some really good push up the middle and hits on Russell when we needed it the most,” Cullen said Tuesday.
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With two open roster spots, it’s possible the team makes a move — whether it be signing a free agent or promoting someone from the practice squad — to add more depth along the defensive front.
The Ravens on Tuesday announced the signing of outside linebacker Demone Harris to the practice squad. Cullen mentioned undrafted free agent Aaron Adeoye as an option to be promoted to the 53-man roster.
Even with McPhee, second on the team with three sacks, missing the rest of the season, Cullen said he sees the team’s pass rush, which struggled early in the season, improving in recent weeks.
The Ravens lead the league with 32 quarterback knockdowns, but rank 25th with 12 sacks.
“Someone gave me a stat, we’re leading the NFL in hits. Well, hits aren’t good enough,” Cullen said. “We want to get him down. Obviously we want to affect the quarterback. The other day we had one sack, but I thought we affected that quarterback [Wilson].