Tag Archive | "Dennis Pitta"

Ravens-Vikings: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Vikings: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 07 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Concluding a critical three-game homestand while also currently holding the No. 6 seed in the AFC, the Ravens welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town for a game they know they should — and must — win.

Three games against projected playoff teams await to conclude the regular season, so the Ravens have no room for a letdown against 3-8-1 Minneesota in their penultimate game of the year at M&T Bank Stadium. Of course, a forecast of a wintry mix Sunday could create some interesting playing conditions for both teams.

Sunday will mark the 2013 season debut for Dennis Pitta, who was activated from injured reserve on Saturday afternoon. The Ravens hope the fourth-year tight end will be able to knock off enough rust against the Vikings to make him a difference-maker starting next week in a Monday night game at Detroit.

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is unlikely to play after being listed as doubtful with an ankle injury. However, the Vikings’ propensity for leaning on their running game already made it likely that second-year linebacker Courtney Upshaw would see increased playing time on Sunday.

It’s time to go on the record as the Ravens have the opportunity to move above the .500 mark for the first time since early October. The all-time series against the Vikings is tied 2-2, but Minnesota won the last meeting between these teams in 2009, a 33-31 final at the Metrodome.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens look for their first three-game winning streak of the season …

1. Pitta won’t see more than 20 snaps against the Vikings, but he’ll catch a red-zone touchdown to give the Ravens a much-needed lift. The fourth-year tight end will likely see a limited number of snaps as the Ravens wait to see how he responds to live contact, but a good week of practice allowed the organization to pull the trigger to activate him. The Ravens put together six scoring drives in last week’s win over Pittsburgh, but the offense is 1-for-8 inside the red zone over the last two games, a mark that must improve in the final quarter of the season. Pitta caught 10 touchdowns inside the red zone in 2011 and 2012 and will rein in his first of 2013 to boost the league’s 24th-ranked red-zone offense and build more optimism for the big three-game stretch to conclude the regular season.

2. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will become the second player this season to reach the century mark on the ground against Baltimore. Every opponent knows exactly what it needs to do against the Vikings, but stacking the box with eight defenders hasn’t prevented Peterson from leading the league with 1,208 rushing yards. The 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player averages 3.1 yards after contact per attempt, meaning gang tackling is a must against such a physical runner. The key for the Ravens will be to contain Peterson enough to prevent a big day and force them to pass the football more than they’d like, something Chicago couldn’t do in an overtime loss last week. Baltimore will do a better job than the Bears, but he’ll still hit triple digits against the Ravens, joining Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy as the only other back to accomplish that against the Ravens this season.

3. The Baltimore secondary will intercept quarterback Matt Cassel twice to set up the Ravens offense on a short field. The Vikings have had major issues at quarterback all year, so the absence of starter Christian Ponder won’t make a major difference with the Ravens actually being more familiar with Cassel. Likely using a single-high safety extensively with safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam taking turns playing closer to the line of scrimmage to stop the run, the Ravens will depend on Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb to be strong in coverage. Minnesota has some capable weapons in Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Jerome Simpson at wide receiver, but that’s been true all season with the Vikings still ranking 25th in passing offense. Cassel will be forced to make some throws playing from behind, and the Ravens will be waiting to cash in on his mistakes.

4. Bernard Pierce will gain more rushing yards than Ray Rice in another timeshare of carries on Sunday. Coach John Harbaugh downplayed Pierce receiving nine carries to just 12 for Rice against the Steelers, but the more-physical Pierce averaged 3.9 yards per carry compared to 2.7 for Rice on Thanksgiving. With the possibility of snow collecting on the turf, it will be interesting to see how both teams fare, but Pierce simply looked more explosive against the Steelers and deserved an increased portion of the workload. Aside from a strong day against a run-challenged Chicago defense a few weeks ago, Rice hasn’t been himself all season while Pierce appears to be healthier now than he was early on. Rice will still get plenty of opportunities — and likely more carries — but Pierce will be more productive.

5. Wintry conditions could make things interesting, but the Ravens will dispose of an inferior team with a 24-13 win over Minnesota. It only takes one or two fluke plays in snowy weather to completely change the outcome of the game, but the Ravens have more experience and have played in plenty of poor weather this season, giving them the edge in that department. The Baltimore offense isn’t equipped to blow out anybody, but the Ravens have moved the ball better in recent weeks and quarterback Joe Flacco has arguably played his best football of the season over the last two games. Winning the turnover battle and improved efficiency in the red zone will add up to a relatively comfortable two-possession win for the Ravens as they’ll turn their sights toward a very difficult three-game stretch to try to secure a playoff spot in the AFC.

 

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Pitta set to make 2013 debut after being moved to 53-man roster

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Pitta set to make 2013 debut after being moved to 53-man roster

Posted on 07 December 2013 by Luke Jones

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta has worked more than four months to come back from a hip injury that appeared all but certain to end his 2013 season in late July. He’ll complete that journey against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Facing a 4 p.m. deadline on Saturday for Pitta to be eligible to play in Week 14, the Ravens moved the fourth-year tight end from injured reserve to the 53-man roster. Many thought rookie safety Brynden Trawick might be placed on injured reserve to make room for Pitta on the active roster, but the Ravens instead elected to waive running back Bernard Scott, who didn’t appear in a game for Baltimore.

The Ravens will likely limit Pitta’s snaps in his first live-game action since Super Bowl XLVII when he caught a touchdown pass to help Baltimore win its second championship in the last 13 years. Pitta took part in full-team drills this week after being limited to individual drills the previous two weeks leading up to games against the New York Jets and Pittsburgh.

“Ultimately, it’s up to me and how I feel,” Pitta said after Friday’s practice. “It’s a rare injury in sports, so the doctors are relying on me to see how I feel and how my body responds and all that. We’ll see.”

Pitta returned to practice on Nov. 20 after he was placed on IR with the designation to return in early September. After Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip on July 27, the Ravens initially feared he would be lost for the season, but corrective surgery and subsequent magnetic resonance imaging revealed no ligament or cartilage damage in the hip area.

A fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft, Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season and added three more touchdown catches in the postseason. After veteran Anquan Boldin was traded in the offseason, Pitta was expected to see more time in the slot and more passes thrown his way this season before he was injured in the first week of training camp.

He is also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, giving him extra incentive to return to action and prove he is the same player that he was before the serious injury. Of course, the Ravens are hoping Pitta can breathe life into their 29th-ranked offense and 19th-ranked passing game.

“Just having him out there makes him a threat,” fellow tight end Ed Dickson said. “Off the top of my mind, I think of the red zone. He’s a big target [and] he runs great routes. Dennis knows this offense better than anybody.”

With a wintry mix predicted for Sunday’s game, Pitta will not only be thrown into the middle of a playoff push but experience the harsh elements of December. The Ravens hope that Sunday’s tuneup will be enough for Pitta to gain the necessary confidence in playing three consecutive games against projected playoff teams to close the regular season.

A certain unknown remains with Pitta returning to live-game action and not knowing how his surgically-repaired hip will respond to contact. Reviews of Pitta’s performance in practices this week were positive, but practicing is a different arena than playing in games with high stakes.

“You always want to see how you’re going to respond after getting hit like that,” Pitta said. “It’s not something you can simulate in rehab or even in practice. It will be nice to kind of take that first hit and just see how it feels.”

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Dumervil doubtful to play against Vikings on Sunday

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Dumervil doubtful to play against Vikings on Sunday

Posted on 06 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The status of outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and tight end Dennis Pitta will remain a mystery into the weekend as the Ravens make final preparations for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Dumervil’s status appears bleaker, however, after he was listed as doubtful on the final injury report of the week and missed his third straight day of practice on Friday. The rush specialist was deemed a game-time decision by coach John Harbaugh, who added that the veteran linebacker missing an entire week of practice wouldn’t prevent him from playing if he improved over the weekend.

Dumervil injured his left ankle late in the first half of the Thanksgiving win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but returned early in the third quarter to finish the game. Harbaugh said Monday that the Ravens would likely have to “nurse some things” when asked about Dumervil, but he also added that he expected all players banged up in the Pittsburgh game to be able to play Sunday against Minnesota.

“Earlier in the week, we felt like he was going to make it,” Harbaugh said after Friday’s practice. “He’s not a guy who has to practice to play. If he goes out there and feels like he can go, he will. If he doesn’t, he won’t.”

Dumervil leads the Ravens with 9 1/2 sacks and hasn’t missed a game since sitting out two with the Denver Broncos during the 2011 season.

Harbaugh would not disclose Friday whether Pitta would be making his 2013 season debut against the Vikings, but all signs point to that being the case after Pitta took part in full practices this week. The Ravens have brought him along slowly and have resisted the urge to push Pitta too fast as he works his way back from a serious hip injury suffered in late July.

“It felt good all week,” said Pitta, who added that the decision to play is ultimately up to him and how he feels. “It’s nice to get back in and go through full practices and stuff. We’ll see.”

With a wintry mix in the forecast for Sunday’s game against the Vikings, Harbaugh acknowledged the weather could be a factor in determining whether Pitta plays if the footing on the M&T Bank Stadium turf would be treacherous due to snow or sleet.

The Ravens will have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to move Pitta to the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings. The expectation is that Pitta would play a limited number of snaps in his return to game action, but he was not listed on the final injury report since he was not on the 53-man roster as of Friday afternoon.

“It’s going to be how he gets through the week, how the doctors still have to look at it and make sure he’s going to be sound,” Harbaugh said.  “If they feel good about it, then he should be OK. He’s got a reasonable chance. We just have to see.”

The Ravens listed defensive end Chris Canty, cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson, and wide receiver Brandon Stokley as questionable after each player worked on a limited basis in practices this week. Canty and Webb are expected to take their normal places in the starting defense.

Rookie safety Brynden Trawick remains sidelined with an ankle injury and was officially ruled out. Trawick figures to be a likely candidate to be placed on injured reserve to clear a roster spot for Pitta.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith is probable after he completed the concussion protocol and was cleared earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, the Vikings ruled out quarterback Christian Ponder, tight end Kyle Rudolph, and cornerback Josh Robinson. Ponder hasn’t been cleared from the concussion he suffered against Chicago last Sunday, meaning backup Matt Cassel will start against the Ravens.

All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson is questionable with a groin injury, but he practiced on a limited basis Friday and is fully expected to play.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Pete Morelli.

Sunday’s forecast calls for temperatures to be in the low 30s with an 80 percent chance of snow.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)
PROBABLE: CB Jimmy Smith (concussion)

MINNESOTA
OUT: QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Jared Allen (finger), RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DT Sharif Floyd (illness), LB Chad Greenway (wrist), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)

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How will Pitta fit into Ravens offense upon returning?

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How will Pitta fit into Ravens offense upon returning?

Posted on 05 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Since being placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in early September, tight end Dennis Pitta has been imagined as the potential late-season savior for the Ravens.

With the league’s 29th-ranked offense and 19th in passing offense, the Ravens certainly can use whatever boost Pitta might offer as Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings represents his first realistic chance of playing in 2013. Though the fourth-year tight end’s return in Week 14 isn’t set in stone, the meeting with the Vikings seems like a logical tuneup to work him back into live-game action before three crucial games against projected playoff teams to conclude the regular season.

But what exactly can the Ravens expect when Pitta makes his long-awaited return to the field?

“I’m sure he probably still feels a little weak, and there are probably some things he is going to have to feel himself through,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “He hasn’t run a full-speed route against defenders in a long time, so you have to allow some adjustment time for that. We’ll see how it goes.”

When healthy, Pitta’s attributes are unquestioned as his 6-foot-4 frame creates matchup problems for safeties and linebackers and his ability to find windows within zone coverage is as good as any in the league. Whether lining up as a traditional tight end or in the slot, Pitta’s chemistry with Flacco is something that should return more quickly than the typical rapport between a quarterback and pass-catcher.

But the offseason hype of Pitta stepping into the role of departed slot receiver Anquan Boldin is unlikely to be realized at this late juncture and after such a long layoff. Like many players coming off major leg injuries such as a torn ACL, his speed may not be up to par initially despite a clean bill of health to return to the field just over fourth months after dislocating and fracturing his right hip. Asking Pitta to do things on the field with which he isn’t familiar probably isn’t in the Ravens’ best interest in the final month of the regular season.

Despite fans’ daydreams of what his return might mean for a passing game that’s lacked a reliable option in the middle of the field, Pitta shouldn’t be confused for Rob Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham after he caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. Even after the promotion of Jim Caldwell to offensive coordinator last December and the increased emphasis on using the middle of the field, Pitta only played 60 to 70 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps in most games and isn’t known for his blocking ability.

That reality coupled with the uncertainty surrounding Pitta from a physical standpoint means tight end Ed Dickson will continue to play a significant role in the offense. Clearly a disappointment as a receiver in only making 16 catches for 211 yards this season, Dickson is the only capable blocking tight end on the 53-man roster.

“In things that you don’t see, he’s been doing a great job in terms of his blocking at the line of scrimmage and out on the perimeter as well,” said Caldwell of Dickson. “He’s doing a good job, he’s working extremely hard at it, and he continues to improve.”

What Pitta’s return means for veteran backup Dallas Clark will be more interesting as the two have fairly similar skill sets in working best while flanked out from a normal tight end position. The 34-year-old Clark only played nine snaps two weeks ago against the New York Jets and 23 against Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving, and his role only figures to diminish with Pitta back in the picture.

However, with the Ravens’ lack of consistent targets inside the red zone this season, the combination of Pitta and Clark on the field together is an intriguing possibility for Flacco. The only problem with such a look near the goal line would be further limiting the Ravens’ ability to run the football, which has already been brutally ineffective this season.

Should Pitta quickly show he is 100 percent upon his return, Clark’s presence would appear unnecessary, but Caldwell seems more than open to finding ways to keep the veteran involved in the offense.

“Dallas has made some great plays for us along the stretch,” Caldwell said. “You still flash in your head the fourth-down play in Chicago he made with one hand. The guy has made some great catches, some touchdown catches for us as well. We’ll be able to figure it out and work it out. We’ll just see what the doctors say in terms of Dennis, how much he can play or if he can play — all those kinds of things. Those are yet to be seen. Until then, we work them and give the guys the snaps that they can get. We can’t give them enough snaps in practice.”

Likely to play a limited number of snaps if he does return on Sunday, Pitta will be monitored closely as there is no way to fully simulate how he’ll respond to live-game contact during practices at this late stage of the season. If he’s holding up well, Pitta’s logical fit would be to simply fill the role that he did last year in lining up at tight end in three-wide, one-back sets and occasionally working out of the slot.

But the tight end also has the rest of his career to think about and is deserving of a nice payday as an unrestricted free agent. The Ravens desperately want him for their final playoff push and Pitta wants to show general manager Ozzie Newsome that he’s healthy and ready to resume his playing career after such a serious injury while helping the offense down the stretch.

But common sense must prevail as the Ravens will lean heavily on how Pitta is feeling, trying to resist the urge to push him too hard too fast. There’s little precedent for a player to return from this kind of an injury in such a short amount of time, meaning the Ravens, Pitta, and the medical staff have been forced to feel it out as they go along.

Any production they get will just be the icing on the cake.

“The health of the player comes first,” coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s the No. 1 thing — his ability to withstand the rigors of a game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

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Dumervil absent Wednesday, Jimmy Smith cleared from concussion protocol

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After coach John Harbaugh offered an optimistic outlook for the Ravens’ health earlier in the week, Wednesday’s practice confirmed his feelings as outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was the only notable player not to participate.

The rush specialist injured his ankle in the second quarter of last week’s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers but returned early in the second half to finish the game. Harbaugh said Dumervil looked OK on Monday but hinted that he might be limited during practices this week before expressing confidence that all players who were nicked up in last Thursday’s game would be able to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (head) practiced on a limited basis after being cleared by doctors after completing the league’s concussion protocol. The third-year defensive back appeared woozy while walking off the field following the violent collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the fourth quarter.

“Jimmy is becoming one of the top corners in the National Football League by the way he is playing,” said Harbaugh on the importance of Smith being cleared. “The numbers bear that out, and the film bears it out. It’s important to our football team, and I really like the way he is playing.”

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (knee) was also practicing on a limited basis despite injuring his left knee in the second quarter of the Pittsburgh game and not returning. Harbaugh said the 37-year-old veteran suffered no structural damage to his knee.

Dennis Pitta was also taking part in Wednesday’s practice as Harbaugh said he was “pretty hopeful” that the fourth-year tight end would be able to make his 2013 season debut on Sunday. The sense is Pitta’s activity level will be increased this week to see how his surgically-repaired hip responds to contact and team-related activity before the Ravens will make a decision on his status at the end of the week.

According to quarterback Joe Flacco, Pitta was limited to just individual work in the week leading up to the game against the New York Jets. Last week’s abbreviated schedule that consisted of only walk-throughs leading up to the Pittsburgh game eliminated any chance of Pitta testing his hip in full-team drills, meaning there was no really chance of the tight end playing against the Steelers.

“It’s going to be just a matter of how ready he is to play and how healthy he is to play,” Harbaugh said. “With something like that, all the doctors are going to be involved. He was in New York [Tuesday]. Those things are important things. The health of the player comes first. That’s the No. 1 thing — his ability to withstand the rigors of a game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

The Ravens have until 4 p.m. on Saturday to place Pitta on the 53-man roster for him to be eligible to play against the Vikings, but his 21-day window for practicing will expire on Dec. 11, meaning the organization must put him on the active roster by then for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.

Rookie safety Brunden Trawick was the only other player besides Dumervil who did not participate in Wednesday’s practice.

Meanwhile, the Vikings haven’t made it official, but head coach Leslie Frazier indicated backup quarterback Matt Cassel is likely to start in place of concussed starter Christian Ponder, who was injured in Minnesota’s overtime win over the Chicago Bears this past Sunday.

Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson also sat out Wednesday’s practice while nursing a groin issue.

Here is the full injury report for Wednesday:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Elvis Dumervil (ankle), S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Chris Canty (shoulder), CB Asa Jackson (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (concussion), WR Brandon Stokley (knee), CB Lardarius Webb (abs)

MINNESOTA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Larry Dean (knee), RB Adrian Peterson (groin), QB Christian Ponder (concussion), CB Josh Robinson (chest), TE Kyle Rudolph (foot), S Jamarca Sanford (ankle)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Jared Allen (finger), LB Chad Greenway (wrist)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Matt Asiata (shoulder), DT Fred Evans (knee), DE Everson Griffen (toe), S Andrew Sendejo (toe)

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J. Smith undergoing concussion protocol, Pitta decision “not 100-percent certain”

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J. Smith undergoing concussion protocol, Pitta decision “not 100-percent certain”

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Earning one of their biggest victories of the season to seize control of the AFC’s No. 6 seed for now, the Ravens did not escape the 22-20 final over Pittsburgh unscathed from an injury standpoint.

However, three extra days of rest came at the opportune time with the Ravens concluding a three-game homestand Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. Baltimore expects to have its full allotment of key players despite cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Brandon Stokley leaving last Thursday’s game with injuries and several others including linebacker Elvis Dumervil and wide receiver Torrey Smith getting banged up during the game.

“Everybody came out of the game with bumps and bruises,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I expect all those guys to be able to play on Sunday. We’ll just have to see if something flares up between now and then.”

Smith appears to be the most serious injury concern at the moment after he collided with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell late in the game, which resulted in both players lying woozy on the field for a significant time. Bell appeared to receive the worst of the impact, but the Ravens will monitor the third-year cornerback’s status over the course of the week.

Harbaugh said Smith “should be OK” immediately after Thursday night’s win and confirmed that initial prognosis during his Monday press conference.

“Jimmy seems to be doing really well,” Harbaugh said. “He was doing well right after the game. He’s going through the concussion protocol now. That was what it was during the course of the game, but everything looks really, really good for Jimmy. [He] should be fine. You never know with that, but it looks like he’s going to be able to even practice on Wednesday, so we’re feeling good about that.”

Stokley’s knee sprain did not result in any concerning structural damage when he was examined on Friday — he did not return to the game after leaving late in the first half — and Dumervil’s ankle injury sustained late in the first half on Thanksgiving night may limit his practice time this week.

Dumervil returned to action after halftime and finished the game with three tackles, but he didn’t appear to make the same impact after hurting his ankle.

“He looks OK,” said Harbaugh about Dumervil’s status. “We’re going to have to nurse some things just like with a lot of different guys.”

The biggest health-related headline leading into Sunday’s game with the Vikings will be the status of tight end Dennis Pitta with all signs pointing to him making his 2013 season debut.

Pitta returned to the practice field on Nov. 20 and is currently in the midst of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens must either place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Should Pitta not be ready to play against the Vikings, the Ravens would have to place him on the active roster by Dec. 11 for him to be eligible to play the rest of the season.

The fourth-year tight end dislocated and fractured his hip on July 27 and has remained on IR with the designation to return since early September.

“It’ll probably come down to the end of the week,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got a pretty good idea that he’s doing well. It’s just a matter of how well. Is he feeling good enough? Do the doctors feel like he’s ready to play? That’s what it’s going to come down to.

“He ran around well last week. We’ll go through the week and see how he does. If he can play, he will for sure. We want to get him up — that’s our goal. But it’s not 100-percent certain at this point.”

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Ravens don’t activate Pitta to play against Steelers

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Ravens don’t activate Pitta to play against Steelers

Posted on 28 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens continue to take it slow with tight end Dennis Pitta after electing not to activate him by Thursday’s 4 p.m. deadline to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night.

Pitta began practicing on Nov. 20 and was never considered a realistic possibility to play last Sunday against the New York Jets, but the organization had hoped in the weeks leading to the tight end’s return to the practice field that he’d be available to play against the AFC North rival Steelers. However, Pitta and coach John Harbaugh both expressed the need to take their time in evaluating how well the 2010 fourth-round pick’s hip holds up to the rigors of football-related activity and contact.

Harbaugh revealed little about Pitta’s status when he met with the media following Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills and was asked whether he was nearing a return to game action..

“He’s closer — yes, he is,” Harbaugh said. “Dennis Pitta is closer.”

After Thursday’s game against the Steelers, the Ravens will not play again until Dec. 8 when they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to M&T Bank Stadium. Given the timing of Pitta’s return to practice, that Week 14 contest would seem like the logical date that he’ll play in a game barring any setbacks.

Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip on July 27 but was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return in early September after the injury revealed no ligament or cartilage damage in the surrounding hip area.

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Pitta “closer” to returning to action, Canty probable for Steelers game

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Pitta “closer” to returning to action, Canty probable for Steelers game

Posted on 27 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Despite facing the challenges of preparing for a short week, the Ravens couldn’t ask for a much better bill of health for their Thanksgiving night meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Defensive end Chris Canty (shoulder) was listed as probable after practicing on a limited basis all week and is the only Baltimore starter even listed on the injury report. Rookie safety Brynden Trawick was ruled out for Thursday’s game after suffering an ankle injury in the Week 12 win over the New York Jets last weekend and missing all three practices this week.

The only drama regarding the Ravens’ health picture is the status of tight end Dennis Pitta, who has now been practicing for a week in his return from a dislocated and fractured hip suffered on July 27. The Ravens must activate Pitta by 4 p.m. Thursday in order for him to play against the Steelers, but head coach John Harbaugh was tight-lipped regarding the fourth-year tight end’s status for Thursday night.

“He’s closer. Yes, he is,” Harbaugh said. “Dennis Pitta is closer [to returning].”

Pitta’s chances of returning for last Sunday’s game against the Jets were always considered extremely remote, but it remains to be seen whether the Ravens will activate him against their AFC North rival. Baltimore has wanted to see Pitta practice enough to not only get back into football shape but determine how strong his hip is in responding to the rigors of contact and being back on the field.

With the Ravens having a 10-day gap between the Steelers game and their next contest against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 8, Week 14 could be a more realistic target date for his return.

Meanwhile, the Steelers are unlikely to have outside linebacker Lamarr Woodley after he was listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game. He has missed Pittsburgh’s last two games with a calf injury and sat out Wednesday’s practice after working on a limited basis a day earlier.

The Steelers also ruled out starting nose tackle Steve McLendon (ankle) earlier in the week, but defensive end Brett Keisel is probable after missing the last two games with a foot injury.

Baltimore announced Wednesday that rookie defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore will not be activated from the non-football injury list after his three-week practice window expired. This ends the Notre Dame product’s season after he was drafted in the sixth round of April’s draft.

Lewis-Moore tore his ACL in the BCS national championship game against the University of Alabama last January.

The referee for Thursday’s game will be Clete Blakeman.

The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 30s with much calmer winds than the Ravens have dealt with in their previous three games.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: S Brynden Trawick (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE Chris Canty (shoulder)

PITTSBURGH
OUT: DT Steve McLendon (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: LB LaMarr Woodley (calf)
PROBABLE: T Marcus Gilbert (ankle), DE Brett Keisel (foot), TE Heath Miller (NIR), S Troy Polamalu (NIR), LB Stevenson Sylvester (hamstring), S Shamarko Thomas (ankle)

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — It’s rare to find a game with playoff implications between two teams lacking a winning record, but that’s exactly where the Ravens and Jets find themselves in the muddled AFC wild-card picture in late November.

The 5-5 Jets come to Baltimore currently holding the No. 6 seed in the conference by way of a tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins, but a Ravens win would pull them even with the Jets and Baltimore already holds a head-to-head tiebreaker against Miami with the Week 5 win over the Dolphins. Of course, the Ravens view the start of a three-game homestand as a golden opportunity to not only climb back to and above the .500 mark but to solidify their chances of advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season under coach John Harbaugh.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) will play after being listed as questionable and being deemed a game-time decision on Friday. The Pro Bowl nose tackle went through a pre-game warmup with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, firing out of a three-point stance several times to test the explosiveness and stability of his left knee.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle his workload considering he logged only one practice this week and another game awaits in just four days with the Steelers coming to town Thanksgiving night.

As we learned Saturday, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) remains on injured reserve with the designation to return after the Ravens elected not to place him on the 53-man roster for Sunday’s meeting with the Jets. Pitta practiced all week, but the organization wants to take its time in determining that Pitta is healthy and ready to return to live-game action.

As expected, cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring) are active and will start despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Neither player’s status was really in doubt after they practiced on a limited basis all week.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is active for the first time since Week 3, which might be a sign of the Ravens emphasizing the short passing game with the high winds expected throughout the game. Fellow receiver Deonte Thompson is inactive for Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, the Jets will be without top receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow), who was ruled out on Saturday after initially being listed as doubtful against the Ravens.

For the third straight game in which the Ravens have been involved, high winds will be a factor as temperatures are only expected to rise to the mid-30s. Winds will be as high as 26 miles per hour, but at least the Ravens should be used to such conditions after the brutal weather in Chicago last week.

Sunday marks the ninth time the Ravens and the Jets have met in the regular season with Baltimore holding an impressive 7-1 record in the all-time series. The Ravens have won seven straight while New York has never beaten them in Baltimore and last won a game over the Ravens in 1997.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants while the Jets will don white tops with white pants on Sunday afternoon.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

NEW YORK
QB David Garrard
WR Jeremy Kerley
RB Alex Green
LB Garrett McIntyre
G Will Campbell
T Ben Ijalana
OL Oday Aboushi

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the day.

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Ravens tight end Pitta won’t play against Jets on Sunday

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Ravens tight end Pitta won’t play against Jets on Sunday

Posted on 23 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Ravens received good news in the form of tight end Dennis Pitta beginning to practice this week, but they’ll have to wait at least one more week to see his return to game action.

Needing to place Pitta on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday to make him eligible to play against the New York jets, the Ravens did not make a move as Pitta remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, a team official confirmed shortly after the deadline. The fourth-year tight end returned to practice on Wednesday, which triggered the start of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens may put him on the active roster.

Baltimore is allowed to activate him sooner, but most expected Pitta would need more practice time to test his surgically-repaired hip after he suffered a dislocation and fracture on July 27. The injury was initially feared to cost him the entire season, but no cartilage or ligament damage was discovered during surgery.

“There is always a chance,” said coach John Harbaugh about Pitta’s status against the Jets. “I don’t want to say ‘no,’ and then he plays. I don’t want to say ‘yes,’ and then he doesn’t play. Then you guys think I’m misleading you somewhere. There is always a possibility of that.”

The Ravens must now determine whether Pitta will be ready to play in their Thanksgiving night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 4-6 and fighting for the No. 6 seed despite an 0-4 start. Should Pitta not play against Pittsburgh, the Ravens conclude a three-game homestand against Minnesota on Dec. 8.

Before taking part in his first practice Wednesday, Pitta reiterated the need for him to take it slow in getting back to football activity and making sure his hip is sound and ready to withstand contact after experiencing such a serious injury less than four months ago.

“You always have that concern that you don’t want to come back too soon and put yourself at risk,” Pitta said. “We’ll be smart with it and take it day by day and see how it goes.”

While the Ravens did not make any roster moves on Saturday, the Jets downgraded wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) to out after they were listed as doubtful on Friday. Kerley is New York’s leading receiver this season with 28 receptions, 347 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.

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