Pernell McPhee steps outside for Ravens

Pernell McPhee steps outside for Ravens
August 1, 2013, 11:30 pm
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(Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Pernell McPhee is working on a new position during Ravens training camp. He’s being a sponge.

McPhee actually is learning outside linebacker to go along with his previous defensive lineman post, which he’s filled in his first two seasons with the Ravens. But he’s working hard to soak everything up, outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino told BaltimoreRavens.com.

“What you see with Pernell is you see a guy that loves to work at his craft. He is a sponge with the learning,” Monachino said.

And there is a lot to learn. Figuring out run or pass takes on a much different aspect when it’s your responsibility to keep the runner from cutting outside — “setting the edge,” in football commentator speak — or sticking with a receiver on an underneath pattern.

“It’s a different sport compared to what Pernell has played in the past,” Monachino said. “Every time he sees a new route combination, it’s the first time he’s seen it. So, his progress is he’s making a quantum leap nearly every day.”

And McPhee has a role model in Terrell Suggs as far as figuring out what the offense is doing.

“In practice, he’ll start dancing, and the ball snaps, and he knows the play. It’s like, ‘Wow,’” McPhee said.

How much the Ravens will need McPhee at linebacker with Suggs, Elvis Dumervil and Courtney Upshaw getting most of the snaps is unclear. Then again, there are only so many snaps available behind Arthur Jones, Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and Haloti Ngata on the defensive line. But being able to play multiple positions only makes McPhee more valuable.