OWINGS MILLS — Pernell McPhee isn’t chasing down quarterbacks just yet.
That day isn’t far off, though, as the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive end returned to practice for the first time since the spring when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery.
The team limited his work to individual drills and running as he was activated from the physically unable to perform list
Having McPhee back for the first time since May makes the competition with Arthur Jones at left defensive end more interesting, and it injects the defense with a stronger pass rush.
Since Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is slated to miss at least the majority of the season with a partially torn Achilles tendon, McPhee is technically the Ravens’ leading returning pass rusher.
McPhee recorded six sacks as a rookie last season after being drafted in the fifth round out of Mississippi State, a total only topped by Suggs’ 14 sacks.
"Very happy that Pernell McPhee is starting to work back in, very excited to see him back," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s an important part of our defense, and we need him in there. But he needs a lot of work, too."
During the spring, McPhee said he’s eyeing double-figures in sacks this season.
"I want to play more snaps, make more plays, even try to get to the Pro Bowl," McPhee said. "Just go out there and continue what I finished last year, go out there and play with great effort, make plays, make more plays. I’m working on everything about my game.”
NGATA IMPROVING: Still on the physically unable to perform list with hamstring injury suffered during a mandatory conditioning test, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata isn’t expected to be sidelined much longer.
"Haloti’s coming along," Harbaugh said. "Haloti thinks he’s pretty close. We’re probably working him a little slower than he’d like us to, but he’s starting to run now. And he’s going to be fine very soon. I don’t really have a timetable."
Ngata’s wife, Christina, gave birth to a 10-pound, 10-ounce son named Haloti Maximum this week.
INJURY UPDATES: Six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk was given the day off for the third day in a row. The Ravens have said they’re simply resting the 36-year old.
Also not practicing: offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie (back, non-football injury list), wide receiver Tandon Doss (hamstring), running back Bernard Pierce (hamstring), outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw (bruised shoulder), offensive lineman Jah Reid (strained right calf), offensive lineman Cordaro Howard (knee), linebacker Josh Bynes (undisclosed), wide receiver Patrick Williams (undisclosed), Pitta and wide receiver David Reed (knee surgery).
Brown had a magnetic resonance imaging exam to check for damage to his lateral meniscus.
Nose guard Ma’ake Kemoeatu returned to practice after missing one day.
TIGHT END SIGNED: The Ravens acquired former St. Louis Rams tight end Billy Bajema, reacting to the loss of tight end Dennis Pitta for the preseason due to a broken right hand that required surgery.
The Ravens cut undrafted rookie quarterback John Brantley to create a roster spot for Bajema, who didn’t practice during his first day on the team.
Bajema, 29, started a dozen games for the Rams last season, catching nine passes for 71 yards.
A former seventh-round draft pick with the San Francisco 49ers in 2005 from Oklahoma State, Bajema is primarily a blocking tight end at 6-foot-4, 259 pounds.
He has 38 career receptions for 398 yards and two touchdowns.
Bajema has a chance to stick as a third tight end where he’ll compete with Davon Drew.
Drew is currently taking the backup reps behind starter Ed Dickson while Pitta recovers from his hand injury.
KICKER UPDATE: Rookie kicker Justin Tucker made all seven of his field goal attempts. That includes one that was nullified due to a penalty on the defense for having a dozen players on the field.
Tucker made a 44-yard field goal to end practice in what was supposed to be an overtime format. He also connected on a 55-yard kick.
Meanwhile, incumbent Billy Cundiff made 4 of 5 attempts. He hit a 55-yarder, missing from 43 yards.
"We put weight on everything," Harbaugh said. "The guys get evaluated on everything they do, even the drills. I think you go by your instincts a little bit, but we know the stats inside out and you certainly factor all that in. The kicks in the game probably weigh more per kick because they’re in games."
BIG HITS: Undrafted rookie safety Omar Brown rocked undrafted rookie tight end Matt Balasavage, hitting him so hard that he knocked off Balasavage’s helmet.
Balasavage held onto the football, retrieved his headgear and got up unhurt.
"It wasn’t a live drill, it was a thud drill, but they thudded pretty good," Harbaugh said.
Brown is a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Marshall.
"Omar’s a good football player," secondary coach Teryl Austin said. "I know he was an undrafted, but the thing I know is when we go up and look at the tape every day he gets an interception. He knocks the ball down. He does something that stands out on film and you never discount that.
"As a coach, you always say: ‘Hey, we can drop all the schemes, we can drop all the techniques, we can do all this stuff.’ If the guy never makes a play, he never makes a play. So, the thing that he has going in his favor is he makes plays."
QUICK HITS: Free safety Ed Reed ripped the football out of Jacoby Jones’ hands. He also intercepted Joe Flacco twice, and took back a Ray Lewis lateral for a touchdown. … Wide receiver Logan Payne beat cornerback Chykie Brown on a nice double-move for a score. … Nose guard Terrence "Mount" Cody engulfed running back Anthony Allen in what qualified as the second biggest hit of the day. … Rookie running back Bobby Rainey caught the football smoothly out of the backfield. … The Ravens have been gradually increasing the workload for cornerback Corey Graham, a Pro Bowl special-teams ace signed during the offseason. The former Chicago Bears standout has been working at cornerback and in nickel packages. "Corey is a really good football player," Austin said. "He has a lot of savvy, great ball skills, understands the game and what you’re doing. You see him in the team situations, and gets around a lot of balls. When he does, he has the ability to finish." … Cornerback Cary Williams made fun of third quarterback Curtis Painter for repeatedly pump-faking during seven-on-seven drills where there’s plenty of time to throw with no pass rushers harassing him.