Tag Archive | "Dennis Pitta"

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Pitta set to play in first game for Ravens in nearly two years

Posted on 09 September 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens will welcome several players back to action on Sunday from season-ending injuries suffered last year, but no one’s return appeared as improbable as that of Dennis Pitta.

Having suffered a second dislocation and fracture of his right hip on Sept. 21, 2014 in Cleveland, the tight end’s career appeared to be over. But after two long years of rigorous rehabilitation and difficult decision-making, the 31-year-old will take the field against Buffalo for only his eighth game since Super Bowl XLVII.

Even the stoic Pitta anticipates some emotion as he takes the field at M&T Bank Stadium.

“I’m sure it will be,” Pitta said. “There was definitely a point in all of this that I had to accept the fact that I probably wouldn’t run out of that tunnel ever again. Being able to do that this Sunday will be emotional but very exciting for me.”

It was a strange summer for Pitta, who broke a finger in a camp scuffle with rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa on Aug. 1 and missed more than a month of action. The 2010 fourth-round pick looked good in spring practices and over the first few days of training camp, but it remains how unclear just how extensively offensive coordinator Marc Trestman plans to use him in the offense.

A strong rapport with close friend and quarterback Joe Flacco should minimize the challenge of Pitta’s extended training camp absence, but head coach John Harbaugh expressed disappointment late last month about the veteran missing valuable reps to regain his timing.

Pitta was listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week, but he was a full participant in practices this week.

“I’m feeling pretty fresh, actually. I’ve been through training camp a lot,” said Pitta, who returned to practice on Sept. 3. “Obviously, it’s tough to miss that amount of time, especially when I haven’t played in a while. I’ve gotten a week or so under my belt and I feel comfortable with everything that I’m doing. I feel good with where I’m at.”

Considering the nature of his second hip dislocation and fracture on an innocuous non-contact play in which he caught a short pass and collapsed simply trying to turn up the field, everyone will be holding their breath as Pitta admitted his wife, Mataya, and his parents remain nervous about him playing again.

Even a few weeks ago, his potential return was still considered more of a bonus with so much depth at the position, but veteran Benjamin Watson suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Aug. 27 and young tight ends Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams have also dealt with ailments in their brief careers, creating more of an interest in Pitta’s presence. Flacco and the Baltimore passing game would certainly welcome his ability to work the middle portion of the field once again.

It’s quite a change from the general tone of much of the last two years.

Was there a particular moment that stood out along the way when Pitta thought his career was over?

“I think the second time I dislocated my hip was one of those instances where I thought, ‘Man, I don’t think I’ll be back out there,’” said Pitta, smiling and proving he still has his dry sense of humor. “For a long time after, I didn’t know how I would recover having done that twice. I didn’t know even if I would get to the point where I felt good enough to play again. It took a long time. Fortunately, now I’m in that position.”

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Breaking down the 2016 Ravens’ initial 53-man roster

Posted on 03 September 2016 by Luke Jones

Former Pro Bowl running back Justin Forsett was easily the biggest surprise among several notable cuts on Saturday as the Ravens constructed their initial 53-man roster for the start of the 2016 season.

More changes are inevitable in the coming days as Baltimore has no clear-cut return specialist with third-year receiver Michael Campanaro being placed on injured reserve and rookie Keenan Reynolds being waived on Saturday. It remains to be seen whether general manager Ozzie Newsome will sign four-time Pro Bowl returner Devin Hester, who worked out and took a physical on Saturday morning.

The Ravens will certainly scan the open market for potential additions to enhance the roster that’s already been assembled. Beginning Sunday, they will also put together a 10-man practice squad with a number of Baltimore players who were cut over the weekend potentially returning to the organization.

Below is a look at the 53-man roster as it stood on Saturday evening with some early impressions:

QUARTERBACKS (2) — Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett
Analysis: With Flacco practicing fully all summer, the Ravens will go with only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster for the seventh consecutive year. Journeyman Josh Johnson provided more competition for the backup job than anyone expected, but the distribution of playing time in the preseason never indicated that Mallett was in real danger of losing the No. 2 job.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (4) — Terrance West, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Kyle Juszczyk
Analysis: Whether the Ravens ultimately bring back Forsett or not, his release signals a changing of the guard as West is now in line to receive the bulk of the work to begin the season after a very strong summer. For now, the Ravens have only two healthy tailbacks as Dixon will need at least couple more weeks to recover from a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5) — Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, Breshad Perriman, Chris Moore
Analysis: After so much discussion this summer about carrying six or seven receivers, the Ravens kept only five as preseason standout Jeremy Butler did not make the team and Campanaro and Chris Matthews were both placed on IR. On paper, this is one of the most talented receiver groups in franchise history, but health concerns with Smith and Perriman are legitimate until proven otherwise.

TIGHT ENDS (3) — Crockett Gillmore, Dennis Pitta, Maxx Williams
Analysis: The season-ending injury suffered by veteran Benjamin Watson took some of the shine off this once-deep group, but Pitta and Williams did return to the practice field on Saturday. Suspended tight ends Darren Waller (four games) and Nick Boyle (10 games) are options later in the season, but it is unsettling that all three tight ends on the roster have had their share of injuries in recent years.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8) — Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Jeremy Zuttah, Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, John Urschel, James Hurst, Ryan Jensen
Analysis: The biggest surprise in this group was the decision to retain Hurst after he struggled mightily in place of the injured Eugene Monroe last year and was driven back into the left knee of Flacco to cause the season-ending injury. The left guard spot remains under the microscope as Lewis and Urschel are the top candidates to start there following the offseason departure of Kelechi Osemele.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7) — Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan, Lawrence Guy, Carl Davis, Brent Urban, Willie Henry, Michael Pierce
Analysis: An undrafted rookie from Samford, Pierce earned a spot on the team with a strong training camp and a terrific preseason that culminated with a sack-strip and fumble recovery for a touchdown in New Orleans on Thursday night. Even after the season-ending injury to rookie third-rounder Bronson Kaufusi, the talent in this young group runs deep.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (6) — Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, Albert McClellan, Za’Darius Smith, Matt Judon, Chris Carter
Analysis: The Ravens are counting heavily on Suggs and Dumervil to fight off Father Time, but the impressive preseason from Judon leads you to believe that he could be a real factor in the pass-rushing rotation as a rookie. Despite the overall depth, this group has some health concerns at the moment with Dumervil not 100 percent after offseason foot surgery and Smith out with an ankle injury.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (3) — C.J. Mosley, Zachary Orr, Kamalei Correa
Analysis: As many predicted, the Ravens finally parted ways with failed 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown, who saw a total of just 10 defensive snaps after his rookie season. The small number of players at this position is deceiving as both McClellan and Carter have experience at inside linebacker and defensive back Anthony Levine practiced extensively as a hybrid linebacker this summer.

CORNERBACKS (7) — Jimmy Smith, Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, Tavon Young, Will Davis, Maurice Canady, Sheldon Price
Analysis: The Ravens hope to have strength in numbers at this position, but Wright and Powers both struggled in the preseason and could be pushed by younger options as the season progresses. Price is the biggest surprise to make it among the youngsters, but the 6-foot-2 UCLA product practiced well in the spring and summer and has appealing size as an outside option.

SAFETIES (5) — Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Kendrick Lewis, Anthony Levine, Matt Elam
Analysis: Terrence Brooks didn’t have a stellar summer, but the 2014 third-round pick’s departure was surprising from a depth standpoint. With his return from knee surgery not believed to be close, Elam could still be placed on injured reserve with the thought of potentially designating him to return later in the season, but he needed to be on the initial 53-man roster to be eligible for that possibility.

SPECIALISTS (3) — Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
Analysis: This will mark five straight years in which these three have been together, a rare example of long-term stability in the NFL. Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg may rest easy with this trio, but the Ravens enter a season without a true return specialist for a second straight year, an obvious concern that’s prompted them to work out the 33-year-old Hester.

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Several notable players back at practice as Ravens prepare for final cuts

Posted on 03 September 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens counting down the final hours before trimming their roster to the league-mandated 53-man limit, they welcomed back several notable players to the practice field on Saturday morning.

Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams, nose tackle Brandon Williams, guard John Urschel, and safety Kendrick Lewis were all present and working after lengthy absences due to various injuries. Pitta hadn’t practiced since breaking a finger in a scuffle with rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa on Aug. 1.

“He looked fine today,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “Certainly, he has to get his timing back and work the rust off, if you want to use that term, and get going. He’s back today, and he’ll be back all next week, and I expect him to be ready to go.”

Meanwhile, Brandon Williams had been sidelined since getting banged up in the second preseason game on Aug. 20. Urschel, Lewis, and Maxx Williams had been missing since suffering injuries in the Aug. 11 preseason opener.

The Ravens were again without outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (foot surgery), who also missed Tuesday’s practice and did not appear in the preseason. That looks to at least be a mild concern with the season opener only a week away and Dumervil not having logged much practice time this summer.

“It’s all in the doctors’ hands and Elvis’ hands,” Harbaugh said. “He came off the [physically unable to perform list], and he worked a couple of days. I really don’t have an answer for that. It just depends how it progresses and how it feels. When he’s cleared to practice fully, he will be out there.

“I support him practicing fully; it won’t be until he is ready.”

Other players missing from Saturday morning’s session included wide receivers Chris Matthews and Michael Campanaro, offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and De’Ondre Wesley, cornerbacks Shareece Wright, Jerraud Powers, and Carrington Byndom, linebackers Victor Ochi and Za’Darius Smith (ankle), defensive tackle Carl Davis (ankle), safety Matt Elam (knee), and running back Kenneth Dixon (knee).

After The Sun reported that defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore had been waived, the 2013 sixth-round pick was not on the practice field, but the Ravens hadn’t announced an official move. Offensive lineman Blaine Clausell was present and working despite his agent, Brett Tessler, announcing that he’d been waived by the organization.

The absences of “bubble players” such as Campanaro, Matthews, and Ochi were notable ahead of Saturday’s 4 p.m. roster deadline, but that wouldn’t necessarily mean they’ve been cut, either.

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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.

QUARTERBACKS (4)
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.

RUNNING BACKS & FULLBACKS (7)
LOCK: Justin Forsett, Kyle Juszczyk, Buck Allen, Kenneth Dixon, Terrance West
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Stephen Houston
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST: Lorenzo Taliaferro
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.

WIDE RECEIVERS (12)
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.

TIGHT ENDS (7)
LOCK: Benjamin Watson, Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Dennis Pitta
BUBBLE: None
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.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (15)
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.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)
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.

INSIDE LINEBACKERS (6)
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.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS (9)
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.

CORNERBACKS (10)
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.

SAFETIES (6)
LOCK: Eric Weddle, Lardarius Webb, Terrence Brooks, Anthony Levine
BUBBLE: Kendrick Lewis
LONG SHOT: None
INJURED RESERVE: Matt Elam
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.

SPECIALISTS (4)
LOCK: Sam Koch, Morgan Cox, Justin Tucker
BUBBLE: None
LONG SHOT: Wil Lutz
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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