Tag Archive | "Dennis Pitta"


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Ravens “grateful” Dixon’s knee injury won’t sideline him for long

Posted on 29 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Running back Kenneth Dixon is expected to miss the start of the regular season, but the Ravens are relieved not to have lost the talented rookie for a longer period of time.

The fourth-round pick sustained a medial collateral ligament tear in his left knee when former Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata tackled him short of the goal line late in the second quarter of Saturday’s preseason game. The good news is that the injury did not require surgery and is expected to only cost Dixon about a month of action.

“It is going to be a loss for a little while,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “But I was grateful for the fact that it is not going to be more than a few weeks.”

Leading the Ravens with 107 rushing yards on 22 carries in the preseason, Dixon has turned more than a few heads despite beginning training camp behind Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, and Terrance West on the depth chart.

Though weighing only 212 pounds, Dixon has shown surprising physicality that’s impressed the coaching staff in addition to his quickness. Of course, the 22-year-old was a four-year starter at Louisiana Tech, making him more experienced that the typical rookie running back entering the NFL.

“A very mature player for his age — just a guy that always has a smile on his face,” Harbaugh said. “He always comes to work. He’s very eager to learn, and then he’s very elusive and very strong. I think he pushed the pile one time, along with some of his teammates, five or 10 yards. He’s a hard-running guy.I think he’s a guy that can create yards on his own. He also pass-protects, and he catches the ball. He’s got a chance to be really good.”

Dixon has shown plenty of promise, but this is the third injury for which he’s missed time since being drafted in April. A lingering hamstring issue kept him out for the start of spring workouts and a minor knee injury suffered on the first day of training camp sidelined him for about a week.

Faith in tight ends after losing Watson

Despite losing veteran and projected starter Benjamin Watson to a season-ending Achilles injury on Saturday night, Harbaugh is confident in his remaining tight ends.

Third-year tight end Crockett Gillmore is healthy again after missing the start of the summer with a hamstring injury and undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. The Ravens are also expecting veteran Dennis Pitta (broken finger) and 2015 second-round pick Maxx Williams (undisclosed) to return to the practice field soon after lengthy absences in the month of August.

“Dennis has missed a lot of time, so we have to get him back out there,” Harbaugh said. “I do think he can practice and play with the time [before the season opener], but we have to get him out there. He was not out there today. Maxx Williams is going to be back out here practicing shortly. His issue, we had to rest it for a few weeks. He will be back out here practicing shortly after the New Orleans game.”

Harbaugh also said that second-year tight ends Darren Waller and Nick Boyle remain in the organization’s plans despite their pending suspensions to begin the regular season. Waller will miss the first four games while Boyle will serve a 10-game ban.

Perriman preview?

Ravens wide receiver Breshad Perriman only returned to practice on a limited basis last week, but Harbaugh hasn’t ruled out the possibility of the 2015 first-round pick receiving some live-game reps in the preseason finale, a game in which few starters play.

“If he can play, he will play,” Harbaugh said. “I do want to see him out there playing before he gets in a regular-season game. It would be something that we would want to see him do if we can. That will be up to the doctors.”

Perriman suffered a partially-torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in June after missing his entire rookie season with an injury to his right knee.

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Sizing up the 2016 Ravens roster before the third preseason game

Posted on 26 August 2016 by Luke Jones

With the “dress rehearsal” of the preseason now upon us, it’s time for our newest look at the Ravens’ 53-man roster with the last projection taking place after the first preseason game.

My current look at the roster suggests 46 players are locks if the deadline to trim the roster to 53 took place today. My rough assessment of the 90 players currently on the preseason roster lists 19 players on the bubble. Not all bubble players are on equal footing, of course, with certain positions lacking depth and others enjoying extensive talent.

Though general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and the remainder of the coaching staff and front office are cognizant of keeping a balanced number of players at each position, trying to boldly pinpoint a specific number of wide receivers or linebackers or safeties isn’t the most accurate way of projecting the roster. In filling out the back end of their roster, the Ravens will look carefully at players’ special-teams abilities in addition to what they bring to their respective offensive or defensive positions.

The Ravens must trim the roster from 90 players to 75 on Aug. 30 and will go down to the regular-season number of 53 on Sept. 3.

The numbers in parentheses indicate the total number of players currently on the roster at that given position. Bubble players’ names that are underlined are part of the projected 53-man roster as of Aug. 26.

LOCK: Joe Flacco
BUBBLE: Ryan Mallett, Josh Johnson
LONG SHOT: Jerrod Johnson
Skinny: If the backup competition were based solely on summer performance, Josh Johnson would likely be in the lead despite Mallett’s skill set more closely resembling Flacco’s. Harbaugh said Mallett hasn’t yet locked up the job, but I’m still not convinced that his roster spot is in real jeopardy, either.

LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West
LONG SHOT: Stephen Houston
Skinny: Keeping four tailbacks is unusual, but Forsett’s experience is too valuable and the upside of the three young backs is too enticing to pass up. It remains to be seen how the carries will be distributed, but the rookie Dixon flashes the look of a potential home-run hitter out of the backfield.

LOCK: Steve Smith, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Mike Wallace, Chris Moore, Michael Campanaro
BUBBLE: Jeremy Butler, Keenan Reynolds, Chris Matthews
LONG SHOT: Chuck Jacobs, Dobson Collins, Darius White
Skinny: Trying to find roster room for Butler is likely one of Baltimore’s biggest headaches now, but what does the preseason standout offer that’s truly unique from the other six on the projected roster? Reynolds is improving, but it still looks like too tall of an order to keep him on the 53-man roster.

LOCK: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta
LONG SHOT: Daniel Brown
SUSPENDED: Nick Boyle, Darren Waller
Skinny: Health is a concern here as only the 35-year-old Watson has avoided missing extensive practice time this summer. Pitta is more of an unknown than you’d like, but Harbaugh did not indicate that his roster spot was in danger while bemoaning his long-term absence due to a broken finger.

LOCK: Marshal Yanda, Ronnie Stanley, Rick Wagner, Jeremy Zuttah, John Urschel, Alex Lewis
BUBBLE: Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse, De’Ondre Wesley, James Hurst
LONG SHOT: Anthony Fabiano, Matt Skura, Jarell Broxton, Blaine Clausell, Stephane Nembot
Skinny: This eight-man group would leave the Ravens light at offensive tackle, but Lewis can play there and Yanda can certainly move out to right tackle in a game-day pinch. Wesley would appear to be a good candidate to land on the practice squad if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster.

LOCK: Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Brent Urban
BUBBLE: Willie Henry, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Michael Pierce
LONG SHOT: Trevon Coley
INJURED RESERVE: Bronson Kaufusi
Skinny: It’s been an underwhelming summer for Henry, but it’s difficult envisioning the Ravens cutting a fourth-round pick in his rookie season. Lewis-Moore has improved from last season, but keeping more than six defensive linemen is difficult with so many needs elsewhere.

LOCK: C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Kamalei Correa
BUBBLE: Arthur Brown
LONG SHOT: Kavell Conner, Patrick Onwuasor
Skinny: Brown hasn’t done much to distinguish himself as worthy of making the team this summer, making it the potential end of the road for the disappointing 2013 second-round pick. The versatility of this overall linebacker group is a strength with a few players like Correa able to play inside or outside.

LOCK: Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, Albert McClellan, Matt Judon
BUBBLE: Chris Carter
LONG SHOT: Victor Ochi, Brennen Beyer, Mario Ojemudia
Skinny: With McClellan and Orr now playing bigger defensive roles, Carter might be a good fit as a veteran easing some of their workload on special teams. Ochi is an intriguing prospect who has barely played in the preseason, making you think the Ravens are trying to sneak him onto the practice squad.

LOCK: Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young
BUBBLE: Will Davis, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canady, Kyle Arrington
LONG SHOT: Julian Wilson, Carrington Byndom
Skinny: The Ravens would probably like to find room for Price or Canady, but they have safeties who can play the nickel and dime spots. Arrington’s extended absence due to a concussion has really hurt his chances of making the team after his salary was already cut this offseason.

LOCK: Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Kendrick Lewis
Skinny: Elam seems like a logical candidate to land on injured reserve where the Ravens could potentially activate him after Week 6 if there’s a need at safety. Coaches like Lewis, but he has missed a lot of time this summer, making you wonder if he’s losing his grip on a roster spot.

LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
Skinny: There’s still nothing to see here with Lutz occasionally easing the workload of Tucker and Koch during practices.

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Harbaugh frustrated by Pitta’s extended absence with broken finger

Posted on 22 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Three weeks have passed since Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta suffered what was originally deemed a minor finger sprain from a scuffle with rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa.

In fact, the injury was treated with humor by both Pitta and close friend and quarterback Joe Flacco.

It turned out to be much more serious, however, which explains the lengthy absence. Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that a magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed that Pitta suffered a break in the finger, and he is still unable to catch passes or take part in practices. The training staff fears that another hit to the finger might require doctors to insert a screw in it, keeping him sidelined even longer.

The ninth-year coach said it was “absurd” that the Aug. 1 injury occurred in the first place.

“We want to get him out here running and in the [walk-throughs],” Harbaugh said. “I want to get him timed up with Joe, but he really can’t catch right now and he definitely can’t get his finger banged up. It’s ridiculous, it’s sad, and I’m disappointed about it.”

Harbaugh tried to find a positive by noting that the broken finger may have kept Pitta out of harm’s way from a more serious injury during training camp. The 31-year-old is trying to come back from two catastrophic injuries to his right hip and has appeared in just seven games since Super Bowl XLVII.

Already with a deep collection of tight ends on the roster, the Ravens need to see what Pitta can offer at this stage of his career after not playing in a game in 23 months. He appeared to be moving well in spring workouts and over the first few days of the summer, telling reporters that his surgically-repaired hip felt great.

“We have to get him and Joe timed up. That was really coming early on,” Harbaugh said. “It was really exciting to see, so we need to get him back as soon as we can. It’s not going to be this week. A bone has to heal before they can put him out there.”

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Pitta sprains finger, draws mocking from Flacco

Posted on 02 August 2016 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After what Dennis Pitta has been through over the last three years, no one would dare make fun of the Ravens tight end suffering another injury, serious or not.

That is, unless you’re Joe Flacco.

The quarterback couldn’t help but take a dig at his best friend on the team after Pitta sprained one of his right fingers in a scuffle with rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa on Monday night. Of course, the injury pales in comparison to the two devastating injuries to his right hip that have limited Pitta to seven games over the last three seasons.

“He got his little baby injury that he always gets at camp and gets himself out of a week in camp,” said Flacco as he cracked a big smile. “That’s better than breaking his hip though, so I’m cool with that. It will put him on the sideline for a little bit and protect him for a little bit.”

Pitta was nearby when Flacco spoke with reporters and was ready with a reply.

The two have underrated senses of humor not often revealed to the media.

“I heard Joe say, ‘It’s a good thing he didn’t break his hip,'” Pitta said, “which isn’t that funny, Joe.”

It was unusual to see both Pitta and Flacco involved in some of the many heated exchanges during Monday’s workout at M&T Bank Stadium as Correa got under the skin of a few offensive players with his physicality. Head coach John Harbaugh later sent linebacker Za’Darius Smith and offensive lineman Ryan Jensen off the field for fighting.

Considered one of the most mild-mannered players on the team, Pitta was asked when was the last time he’d gotten in a training camp scrum.

“In college,” said the seventh-year tight end from Brigham Young as he laughed. “Normally, I don’t have a lot of reasons to fight people, but I felt like there was a reason. Without going into detail, there was some after-the-whistle stuff that wasn’t necessary. Me and K.C. already talked about it, so we’re good.”

Shortly after the scrum with Pitta, Correa delivered a hard shot to wide receiver Mike Wallace, which prompted Flacco to get in the rookie’s face. The sight of the franchise quarterback being unhappy naturally made the Boise State product stand down.

So, what was Flacco’s message to Correa?

“Listen, I’m protected, man. I can say whatever I want to him because I’ve got a big army coming behind me,” said Flacco, trying to hold back laughter. “It wasn’t nice, but I really didn’t have to be scared with a big army coming behind me. I think he was too smart. I challenged him to see if he was willing to come after me a little bit and he made the right decision I think.”

Correa certainly did.

“He’s our quarterback, he’s our leader. I can’t say anything,” said Correa with a slight grin. “I’m just out there [and] he says something. He’s a captain. He’s a leader. He’s Joe Flacco.”

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Five Ravens questions ahead of mandatory minicamp

Posted on 10 June 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will hold their three-day mandatory minicamp in Owings Mills next week, giving us our final look at John Harbaugh’s team before the beginning of training camp in late July.

Below are five questions pertaining to the Ravens as they conclude spring workouts:

1. How will Eugene Monroe look and where will he fit in?

We’ve heard at length — and then some — about the maligned left tackle’s stance on medical marijuana this offseason, but he revealed this week via Twitter that he’s finally been cleared to play after undergoing shoulder surgery in December, meaning he should be on the field for mandatory minicamp. It was telling how coach John Harbaugh alluded to 2016 first-round pick Ronnie Stanley playing exclusively at left tackle during organized team activities, so what will that mean with Monroe back at practice this coming week? Many continue to doubt whether the oft-injured veteran will be on the roster come September, but it will be interesting to see how he’s handled in the meantime.

2. Will Terrell Suggs break his lengthy silence?

It’s been nine months since the outside linebacker tore his left Achilles tendon in the fourth quarter of the season-opening loss to Denver, and we’ve yet to hear from him to any meaningful degree regarding his health and where he stands mentally entering his 14th year in Baltimore. The Ravens have given no indication that the 33-year-old will be on the field for minicamp, but he has been at the team’s Owings Mills facility working out during OTAs, an encouraging sign in terms of where he is mentally for the 2016 season. Considering how introspective he was talking about the twilight of his career a year ago, Suggs will inevitably be asked whether this could be his final year whenever he does talk to the media.

3. How are the reps divided for the Ravens’ deep group of tight ends?

Crockett Gillmore saying Baltimore had the best collection of tight ends in the NFL sparked debate, but it was interesting how he acknowledged that the Ravens will likely be forced to let go of a couple NFL-caliber tight ends due to numbers. Gillmore, veteran Benjamin Watson, and 2015 second-rounder Maxx Williams are roster locks, but the Ravens must evaluate what kind of player Dennis Pitta is after two serious hip injuries and have intriguing young options in converted receivers Darren Waller and Daniel Brown and the suspended Nick Boyle. With Watson possibly only in Baltimore one year and Pitta’s health a major question, you’d hate to lose a promising option or two for the future.

4. What will Breshad Perriman show us over the three-day period?

Though the 2015 first-round pick was a full participant in both OTA days open to media, it will be interesting to see how he performs over three full-squad practices next week. Perriman looks healthy as he easily sprinted past defensive backs on several occasions on Tuesday, but his development is far from finished after missing so much time with the knee injury during his rookie season. Maybe it’s putting too much pressure on a 22-year-old who’s been through a lot this offseason, but you can’t help but think Perriman could be one of the biggest X factors in determining whether the Ravens return to being a dangerous playoff contender in 2016 or are more of a team fighting to finish .500 or so.

5. Can Trent Richardson provide some substance to accompany the attention he’s received?

We always look for captivating stories at this slow time of year in the NFL, but the attention being paid to a player who was out of the league entirely during the 2015 regular season has felt excessive, especially when there are five running backs ahead of him on the depth chart. Anyone can appreciate a redemption story, but Richardson already tweaked a hamstring before OTAs even began and rarely showed good field vision in Cleveland or Indianapolis when those teams weren’t already displeased with his weight and conditioning. It’s admirable for Richardson to have goals that still include making the Hall of Fame, but there was a reason no one wanted him after being cut by Oakland last summer.

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Pitta, Perriman among players Ravens pleased to have back

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A familiar face and a much-hyped talent were back on the practice field as the Ravens held their first organized team activity open to the media on Thursday.

As anticipated, veteran tight end Dennis Pitta and 2015 first-round receiver Breshad Perriman were both present and working during a voluntary practice session that included 73 members of the 90-man offseason roster. While Pitta is attempting to resurrect his career after two devastating right hip injuries that have limited him to seven games since Super Bowl XLVII, Perriman wants to prove he is fully recovered from a right knee injury that cost him his entire rookie season.

Both were in good spirits after Thursday’s practice.

“I feel good. I don’t have really any lingering issues, and nothing that I’m worried about,” said Pitta, who spent last season on the physically unable to perform list and hasn’t played in a game since Sept. 21, 2014. “I’m encouraged by how I feel and how I’m moving and excited to hopefully get back playing to the level that I was.”

It’s been a difficult offseason for Perriman that goes beyond his longer-than-expected recovery from a partially-torn posterior cruciate ligament suffered during the first full-squad training camp practice last July. In addition to being a close friend of cornerback Tray Walker — who tragically died from injuries sustained in a motorbike accident in March – Perriman nearly lost his father and former NFL receiver Brett Perriman after he reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm this spring.

The 22-year-old isn’t taking anything for granted after a difficult first year in the NFL and is excited to prove why the Ravens selected him with the 26th overall pick of the 2015 draft.

“I feel like a kid in a candy store, so I’m very happy,” said Perriman, who revealed that his knee finally started feeling right again a couple months ago. “I don’t even think about it anymore. I feel great.”

Other players coming off injuries who were present and working on Thursday included running backs Justin Forsett (arm) and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot), tight end Crockett Gillmore (shoulder), center Jeremy Zuttah (pectoral), and cornerback Will Davis (knee).

Head coach John Harbaugh revealed two new injuries to players as receiver Michael Campanaro is currently out with a calf injury while running back Trent Richardson injured his hamstring last week. Other players not practicing for injury-related reasons included quarterback Joe Flacco (knee), cornerback Jimmy Smith (foot), linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles), wide receiver Steve Smith (Achilles), running back Kenneth Dixon (hamstring), and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi (back).

Suggs was working out in the Ravens’ Owings Mills training complex this week, according to Harbaugh. Not expected to be ready to practice until training camp, Flacco observed part of Thursday’s workout from the sideline and continues to rehab his surgically-repaired left knee.

Other veterans absent from the voluntary practice were linebackers Elvis Dumervil and C.J. Mosley, left tackle Eugene Monroe, right guard Marshal Yanda, and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore. Harbaugh said Mosley was dealing with a “personal issue” on Thursday while rookie return specialist and receiver Keenan Reynolds was absent as he graduated from the Naval Academy.

With the Ravens forfeiting three OTA days next week due to a violation of the collective bargaining agreement during their rookie camp earlier this month, players will not return to the practice field until the week of June 6.

“We’ll adjust, we’ll figure out ways to get our work done for sure,” said Harbaugh, who took sole responsibility for having rookies and first-year players illegally dressed in pads for a practice earlier this month. “In some ways, maybe the rest will be good for us. That’s kind of the way I look at it.”

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Offensive position battles aplenty for Ravens at start of OTAs

Posted on 24 May 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are holding their first organized team activities this week and with them come plenty of questions as on-field preparations begin for the 2016 season.

Few conclusions can be drawn from the voluntary workouts that will be conducted without a number of veterans, but the practices will provide an early look at some players returning from injuries as well as rookies competing with established NFL talent for the first time. Thursday’s workout will be open to media to conclude the first week.

Coming off their worst season in nearly a decade, the Ravens have plenty of jobs up for grabs on both sides of the ball.

Here is a look at the top offensive competitions:

1. Left tackle

The candidates: Eugene Monroe, Ronnie Stanley

The reality: With Monroe continuing his crusade for medical marijuana in Las Vegas this week, the rookie first-round pick Stanley should receive extensive opportunities at left tackle. If he proves to be more than ready to handle the job, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh can feel better about the possibility of letting the oft-injured Monroe go and saving $6.5 million in salary.

2. Left guard

The candidates: Ronnie Stanley, John Urschel, Ryan Jensen, Vlad Ducasse Alex Lewis

The reality: This spot is directly tied to left tackle as Stanley would appear to be the slam-dunk choice to start should the Ravens keep Monroe for 2016. If Stanley plays tackle, the other four will compete for Kelechi Osemele’s old spot with Ducasse holding the experience edge with 22 career NFL starts, but both Urschel and Jensen have fared well at guard when given the chance to play there in the past.

3. Running back

The candidates: Justin Forsett, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Trent Richardson

The reality: The veteran Forsett is the early favorite to start, but the size of this list reflects how wide open this competition could be. There is plenty of depth, but the question will be whether there is enough high-impact talent to make the running game thrive and not just a collection of No. 2 and No. 3 backs. At the very least, Allen and Dixon give Joe Flacco two attractive options as receivers out of the backfield.

4. Tight end

The candidates: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta

The reality: All eyes will be on Pitta — with fingers crossed — as he is serious about returning to action, but it’s impossible to know what kind of player he can be after two serious hip injuries. Is the veteran newcomer Watson the favorite to start after a career year in New Orleans or will Gillmore build on his encouraging 2015? The 2015 second-rounder Williams could also be ready to take a big step forward.

5. Wide receiver

The candidates: Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman

The reality: We don’t figure to get a look at Smith until training camp, but Perriman will be intriguing to watch after missing his rookie season with a knee injury. Perriman and Wallace are better speed complements to Smith’s skill set, but it would be unwise to overlook Aiken after his 2015 campaign. The next tier of receivers that includes rookies Chris Moore and Keenan Reynolds, Michael Campanaro, Jeremy Butler, Chris Matthews, and Daniel Brown will be competing for the last couple roster spots.

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Thirteen Ravens thoughts counting down to OTAs

Posted on 20 May 2016 by Luke Jones

With organized team activities set to begin next week, I’ve offered 13 Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Ozzie Newsome was pleased with last month’s draft, but a key to 2016 will be the number of rookies making an immediate impact instead of merely serving as inventory for the future. That answer could be the difference in getting back to the playoffs or not after a down season.

2. The free-agent signing of Jerraud Powers last week brought a much-needed veteran to the cornerback mix, but I still can’t help but look at that group with concern — particularly on the outside — unless the pass rush is dramatically better, especially with Jimmy Smith coming off another foot procedure.

3. Inside linebacker reminds me of right tackle in 2014 and tight end last season before Rick Wagner and Crockett Gillmore emerged. My early money is on Zach Orr starting. I can’t buy Arthur Brown being the guy after he didn’t even play down the stretch of a lost 2015 season.

4. I’m curious to know how Lardarius Webb is preparing physically to move to safety after seven seasons a cornerback. It’s no secret that Eric Weddle isn’t the biggest guy, but Webb was listed at just 182 pounds last year. Who is going to cover the big, athletic tight ends?

5. Like anyone, I have questions about Steve Smith returning from a torn Achilles tendon at age 37, but I’m intrigued to see what he has in store for us. The Ravens can’t just assume greatness, but I won’t be surprised if he still provides plenty in his final season.

6. There’s merit to the medical marijuana cause Eugene Monroe is championing, but his scheduled appearance on a panel in Las Vegas in the middle of the first week of OTAs isn’t the best look for a player at a position where a 2016 first-round pick is breathing down his neck.

7. We probably won’t see him until next month’s mandatory minicamp, but I’m very curious to hear from Terrell Suggs. Where is he physically after tearing his Achilles tendon in the 2015 opener? Perhaps more importantly, where is he mentally entering his 14th season?

8. It wasn’t surprising to hear Kenneth Dixon say he tries to emulate Marshall Faulk as a running back. Watching his college highlights reminds you of Faulk or Ricky Watters as a receiver. The Ravens would love for him to be even a respectable fraction of either of those former greats.

9. Much focus will be on second-round rookie Kamalei Correa, but the Ravens need Za’Darius Smith to be able to step into Courtney Upshaw’s old role to allow Elvis Dumervil to be a situational rusher. Their willingness to let Upshaw go for peanuts in free agency reflects their confidence in Smith.

10. The Ravens having competition at wide receiver is nothing new, but there is better talent at the top of the depth chart this year. Marlon Brown already being let go reflects that reality when he was competing for the No. 3 wideout job only a year ago.

11. We’re all rooting for Dennis Pitta to stay healthy, but it’s fair to ask if he’s even one of Baltimore’s best three tight ends now. He’s played a total of seven games in three seasons and will be 31. Is he still explosive enough after two major hip injuries?

12. The fourth-round selection of Michigan defensive tackle Willie Henry reiterated how forgotten Carl Davis was by the end of his rookie season. The 2015 third-rounder provided the biggest impact of any rookie early on before hitting the wall and seeing just 17 defensive snaps over the final six games.

13. John Harbaugh deserves the chance to tell his story regarding players illegally wearing pads during rookie camp, but the current collective bargaining agreement has been in place since 2011. Even if they sincerely didn’t know the rules, it’s hard to imagine the Ravens hadn’t thought of doing this before.

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Ravens “excited to help” Pitta with comeback attempt

Posted on 13 April 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens officially announced a restructured contract with veteran tight end Dennis Pitta on Wednesday.

Terms of the revamped deal were not announced, but it includes a reduction of his scheduled $5 million salary for the 2016 with the opportunity to earn money back through incentives. Pitta still hopes to play again after a second devastating hip injury suffered on Sept. 21, 2014, but the restructure limits the financial risk for the Ravens to allow him to pursue that comeback.

“Dennis wants to continue his playing career, and we want to give him that opportunity,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement released by the team. “We have reworked his contract, and we’re excited to help him with his comeback. Everyone here wants Dennis to succeed.”

Pitta signed a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed in 2014, but he appeared in just three games that season before suffering a second fracture and dislocation of his right hip on a play in which he wasn’t touched. The 30-year-old injured his hip for the first time on July 27, 2013, but he returned to play in the final four games that season.

The 2010 fourth-round pick returned to the practice field last October for a 21-day window to see if he was ready to be activated, but he ultimately remained on the physically unable to perform list all season. Pitta acknowledged at the time that his hip hadn’t responded as well as he’d hoped, but he has never given up on the notion of eventually returning to the field after appearing in just seven games since Super Bowl XLVII.

“I am thankful for this opportunity to continue my career,” Pitta said in a statement. “I’m excited to get back to work with my teammates and for this organization. Physically, I feel great and am ready to begin building toward a successful 2016 season.”

Pitta has recorded 138 receptions for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns in his regular-season career. In six career postseason games, he has collected 21 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

In addition to waiving Chase Ford a day earlier, the Ravens also parted ways with Harold Spears on Wednesday, leaving them with seven tight ends on the 90-man offseason roster: Pitta, Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle, Konrad Reuland, and converted wide receiver Darren Waller.

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Ten Ravens thoughts counting down to draft

Posted on 13 April 2016 by Luke Jones

With the offseason training program starting next week and the 2016 draft just two weeks away, I’ve offered 10 Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Dennis Pitta restructuring his contract in an attempt to continue his career was newsworthy, but I’m not convinced it changes much as it relates to the Ravens’ 2016 plans. It merely gives them financial protection for a player who’s a health risk even taking the practice field this spring.

2. The Ravens raised eyebrows when they gave restricted free agent tight end Chase Ford a non-guaranteed $1.671 million tender, but they did it when the status of Crockett Gillmore was uncertain and they hadn’t signed Benjamin Watson. He became expendable after those realities came into focus, especially at that price.

3. It was interesting to see ESPN’s Mel Kiper mock Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott to Baltimore, but it only makes sense if you’re convinced he’s going to be a top 3 running back in the NFL over the next five years. If not, there’s not enough value there at No. 6.

4. A few others have already touched on this, but there’s little reason to think the Ravens will exercise their fifth-year option on 2013 first-round safety Matt Elam that would cost more than $5 million in 2017. He’ll need to worry about simply making the 53-man roster at this point.

5. I don’t love the idea of drafting Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley at No. 6, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t take an offensive tackle in the early rounds. Perhaps they find an eventual replacement for Eugene Monroe or Rick Wagner, but they must improve their depth at the very least.

6. Whether it’s asking a Charlotte teenager with autism to prom or taking down Greg Hardy on Twitter, Steve Smith has certainly stood out in very positive ways. No matter what he brings to the field returning from injury in his final season, the Ravens are lucky he passed their way.

7. Reporters are just as fatigued as fans are from the vague updates regarding Breshad Perriman, but the true test will be whether the 2015 first-round receiver is out there running around during organized team activities open to media next month. Until then, I’ll remain as skeptical as anyone.

8. I rarely read much into what’s said before the draft and he was asked specifically about Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, but director of college scouting Joe Hortiz mentioning him being a coach’s son certainly made him sound like a “Ravens” kind of player. He wouldn’t be a bad first-round choice.

9. The Ravens hope at least one of Joey Bosa, Myles Jack, and DeForest Buckner makes it to No. 6, but trading back for an extra pick or two wouldn’t be the worst development if they can come away with a player like Hargreaves or Clemson edge defender Shaq Lawson.

10. Ozzie Newsome was wise to temper expectations when asked if he expected Baltimore to contend this year. There’s value with the signings of Watson, safety Eric Weddle, and receiver Mike Wallace, but finding high-impact talent in the draft will be more important to bouncing back significantly from a 5-11 season.

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