The Baltimore Ravens moved veteran outside linebacker Pernell McPhee to short-term injured reserve on Saturday, per the NFL’s official transaction report, sidelining yet another player in an injury-riddled 2021 season in Baltimore.
Players moved to the short-term IR have to miss their team’s next three games, but since the Ravens completed the move before Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears, McPhee could be back as soon as Baltimore’s December 12 matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
It’s yet another knee injury for McPhee, who has underwent surgery on both of his knees in his career, forcing him to miss several games since he entered the NFL. He was a fifth-round draft pick by the Ravens out of Mississippi State in 2011 and quickly emerged as a reliable pass rusher, averaging more than one quarterback pressure every 10 pass rushing snaps as a rookie, per Pro Football Focus.
He played a key role in the Ravens’ 2012 playoff run, tipping a Tom Brady pass during the AFC Championship Game to force an interception that all but sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl, which they won.
More Time for Ferguson?
With rookie Daelin Hayes still out with an ankle injury suffered in Week 3 against the Detroit Lions, third-year outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson could see an increase in usage until McPhee returns.
Ferguson has only been active for four games this season after a stint on the COVID-19 reserve list and three healthy scratches. With an influx of talent at outside linebacker this season, including veteran Justin Houston and rookie Odafe Oweh, Ferguson has been mostly relegated to special teams, with only 26 total snaps on defense in 2021.
But after tipping a punt against the Bears on Sunday that led to a Justin Tucker field goal, Ferguson could be in line for an expanded role on defense, especially with McPhee out. After all, special teams is an excellent way for young players to earn more playing time in Baltimore, as head coach John Harbaugh reminded running back Ty’Son Williams last week.
Ferguson arrived in Baltimore as the NCAA FBS career sack leader after a sterling career at Louisiana Tech, but has failed to live up to his ‘Sack Daddy’ nickname in the pros. But with two games in three weeks against the Browns, who have given up the fifth-most sacks in the NFL this season, Ferguson could get his career back on track.
Return to Baltimore
After finishing out his rookie contract in 2014 with a career-high 7.5 sacks, McPhee earned a five-year, $40 million contract with the Bears, though injuries limited his playing time in Chicago.
McPhee returned to Baltimore in 2019, emerging as a locker room leader and key run-stopper in Baltimore’s defense, earning a 75.0 or better run defense grade from PFF in back-to-back years.
His ability to line up as an outside linebacker, defensive end and even defensive tackle has been valuable in a season with so many injuries in Baltimore.
There’s no official timeline for McPhee’s return, but Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic wrote on Saturday, “The hope is he’ll be back at some point in December.”
The Ravens will certainly hope to have McPhee back on the field as soon as possible, though he’ll still be able to deliver pregame hype speeches to his teammates in the meantime.