Tag Archive | "Dennis Pitta"


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Pitta reportedly aiming to return to field in 2016

Posted on 12 April 2016 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 11:55 a.m.)

Dennis Pitta still isn’t ready to give up on his football career.

Having played in just seven games since Super Bowl XLVII due to two devastating injuries to his right hip, the Ravens tight end has decided to attempt a comeback for the 2016 season, according to FOX Sports. The organization begins its offseason workout program in Owings Mills next week.

Pitta, 30, returned to the practice field last October after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list, but he and the Ravens decided it would be unsafe for him to be activated at the conclusion of a 21-day practice window. The 2010 fourth-round pick hasn’t played since suffering a second dislocation and fracture to to his right hip on Sept. 21, 2014, almost 14 months after the first injury took place.

“It didn’t quite respond the way we had hoped,” said Pitta last November after deciding against being activated. “Sitting down with doctors over the last couple of days, we decided that it was certainly too much of a risk at this time and too unsafe to take the field. That was a decision that we made collectively.

“At the end of the day, we can’t ignore what sound medical science has to say.”

In addition to team officials and doctors needing to feel comfortable enough to clear him for a return in 2016, Pitta was scheduled to make a $5 million base salary, but he has agreed to take a pay cut with incentives to earn some of the money back, according to multiple reports. That figure needed to be adjusted to protect the Ravens from being on the hook for such a large salary if he were to injure his hip a third time. His $4 million base salary in 2015 was fully guaranteed, which made it an easy call to allow Pitta to explore a possible return last season.

Pitta signed a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed in 2014, but he has played in just three games since then.

The Ravens further augmented the tight end position last month by signing veteran Benjamin Watson and have selected three tight ends — Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle — in their last two drafts, clear indications that they haven’t counted on Pitta to continue his football career. Releasing the veteran after June 1 would clear $5 million in cap space and leave $4.4 million in dead money on the 2017 salary cap.

“I feel good physically, and I feel like I could go out and run and all that,” Pitta said in early January. “It’ll be about weighing the risks versus the rewards at this point. We’ll do some thinking over the next few months in the offseason, get with the doctors again and go from there.”

In 50 career games, the Brigham Young product has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end made three touchdown receptions in the 2012 postseason run that ended with a win in Super Bowl XLVII.

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As free agency opens, new concern becomes apparent for Ravens

Posted on 09 March 2016 by Luke Jones

As the Ravens entered the offseason, one of the few strengths of a 5-11 team appeared to be its depth at tight end.

Even with the serious doubts surrounding Dennis Pitta’s future in Baltimore, the position consisted of 2014 third-round pick Crockett Gillmore and 2015 draft picks Maxx Williams (second round) and Nick Boyle (fifth round). The trio combined to make 83 receptions for 833 yards and five touchdowns, making one assume that tight end was one of the few spots on either side of the ball that general manager Ozzie Newsome didn’t need to touch.

Then came last month’s news of Boyle being suspended for the first 10 games of the 2016 season for a second violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The following week at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh revealed that Gillmore — who finished the 2015 season on injured reserve with a back injury — needed surgery for torn labrums in each of his shoulders.

Newsome said Gillmore would “hopefully” be ready for the start of training camp in late July, but the executive’s moves at the start of free agency make you wonder if concerns are even greater than he and Harbaugh indicated late last month.

The signing of veteran tight end Benjamin Watson to a two-year, $7 million contract was surprising because of the Ravens’ typical patience at the start of free agency, but it still made sense with Boyle gone until late November and the offense’s heavy reliance on tight ends. Even at age 35, Watson caught a career-high 74 passes for 825 yards and six touchdowns with New Orleans last season and brings strong character and leadership to a position with very young talent.

But Newsome followed that acquisition with the surprising tender of restricted free agent Chase Ford, who didn’t play a snap for the Ravens last year and was sent to IR shortly after being signed in mid-November. The 6-foot-6, 265-pound Ford caught a combined 34 passes for Minnesota in 2013 and 2014, but the $1.671 million low tender is steep for a player who didn’t play a snap last year and was on the Vikings practice squad before Baltimore signed him.

To be clear, the right-of-first-refusal tender isn’t guaranteed, but that amount currently counts toward the salary cap and it’s no secret that the Ravens don’t have an abundance of room to maneuver. Perhaps the organization thinks Ford is a diamond in the rough, but it’s more likely a reflection of the uneasiness about Gillmore’s status for the start of the season.

The Ravens are already facing the brutal reality of Pitta retiring or releasing him with either outcome leaving a total of $6.6 million in dead cap space that will likely be split over the next two seasons with a post-June 1 designation. But Boyle’s foolishness and Gillmore’s health concerns transformed one of the roster’s deepest positions into a concern on which Newsome felt compelled to act.

These may have been the right moves under the current circumstances, but a $32 million contract to Pitta and three draft picks had already been devoted to the position over the last two years before Watson and Ford were added to the picture over the last couple days, exhausting more resources at tight end.

And that’s a disappointing development when the Ravens have an assortment of needs on both sides of the ball and only so much cap space and so many draft picks to go around.

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Pondering the Ravens’ potential 2016 salary cap cuts

Posted on 12 January 2016 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are facing their most critical offseason of the John Harbaugh era, but revamping a 5-11 team won’t be easy with a salary cap lacking flexibility.

Having entered the offseason with an estimated 2016 commitment of just under $146 million to 47 players, general manager Ozzie Newsome can only hope that the salary cap will rise to the highest reported estimate of $153.4 million, an increase of $10 million from this past season. However, that would still leave little room to sign some of their own free agents, let alone try to make other additions.

The direction of the offseason hinges on Baltimore’s ability to adjust quarterback Joe Flacco’s $28.55 million salary cap figure for the 2016 season, but additional cap-related moves will likely still need to be made. The Ravens may not have an extensive list of high-priority free agents, but standing pat after missing the playoffs in two of the last three seasons won’t sit well with the fan base — or owner Steve Bisciotti.

And after last week’s revelation that Harbaugh doesn’t plan to make any changes to his coaching staff, the Ravens are signaling that the roster was the bigger problem in 2015.

In evaluating cap space and potential cuts, it’s important to remember the rule of 51 as the top 51 cap numbers on the roster count against the salary cap. The savings from any released player is offset in part by an additional player jumping into the top 51 from the bottom of the list. For example, if a released player carrying a $3 million cap number is replaced in the top 51 by another player carrying a $450,000 cap number, the end result is a $2.55 million savings on the salary cap.

Below is a list of veteran candidates to be cut for cap purposes (with the pre-June 1 cap savings noted in parentheses):

CB Kyle Arrington ($1.433 million)
Skinnny: Signed last spring to serve as Baltimore’s No. 3 corner, Arrington struggled and saw his playing time dwindle dramatically until the late-season move of Lardarius Webb to safety. With younger options such as Will Davis and Tray Walker already on the roster and the Ravens mentioning cornerback as a need to address this offseason, Arrington’s roster spot would appear to be in serious jeopardy.

DE Chris Canty ($2.15 million)
Skinny: The 33-year-old is still a useful player when healthy, but injuries and the presence of Lawrence Guy and Brent Urban for the 5-technique spot make it likely that the Ravens will elect to cut Canty this winter. The organization decided to bring the veteran back after terminating his contract a year ago, but you wonder if either side would have interest in doing that again.

S Matt Elam ($1.328 million)
Skinny: The Ravens would still like to salvage some production out of the worst defensive first-round pick in franchise history, but Elam is making enough money now to wonder if it’s worth it. With Will Hill manning the strong safety spot, where does the University of Florida product even fit? Elam would be an expensive backup and special-teams player at a crowded position.

RB Justin Forsett ($2.3 million)
Skinny: The Ravens have three young running backs behind him on the depth chart, but Lorenzo Taliaferro hasn’t been able to stay healthy, Buck Allen had ball-security issues late in the season, and Terrance West wore out his welcome with two other NFL teams in less than two years. Forsett may not be a home-run hitter, but his $3.7 million cap figure is reasonable and Allen didn’t quite show enough for the Ravens to sign off on him being ready to be a No. 1 running back just yet.

S Kendrick Lewis ($933,333)
Skinny: Though Lewis didn’t bring the impact to the free safety position that the Ravens hoped when they signed him last offseason, his release wouldn’t bring much in the way of cap savings. That being said, if the Ravens truly intend to make Webb their starting free safety, cutting Lewis might be a football move more than one related to the salary cap.

OT Eugene Monroe ($2.1 million)
Skinny: This could be the most complicated decision of the offseason as Monroe has started only 16 games since signing a five-year, $37.5 million contract two years ago. Cutting Monroe leaves $6.6 million in dead money on the 2016 cap, and re-signing Kelechi Osemele won’t be an easy task. If Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss or Notre Dame’s Ronnie Stanley falls into their laps in the first round, the Ravens could wave goodbye to Monroe. Otherwise, they may look to draft a tackle in the second or third round and hold their breath that Monroe bounces back in 2016.

TE Dennis Pitta ($600,000)
Skinny: The veteran tight end said at the end of the season that nothing has changed in terms of his hopes to play again, but things have changed for the Ravens as his 2016 base salary ($5 million) is not guaranteed like it was this past year. There’s always a chance that Pitta agrees to an incentive-laden deal with no guaranteed money to continue with a potential comeback, but he is more likely to be released or to retire. The question will be whether the Ravens want $6.6 million in dead money to be absorbed in 2016 or to give him a post-June 1 designation to push $4.4 million of that to 2017. Either way, Pitta’s exit isn’t going to be of great assistance when it comes to making moves this offseason.

LB Daryl Smith ($2.625 million)
Skinny: The veteran has done a fine job stepping into the position once held by Ray Lewis, but he wore down as 2015 progressed and was being replaced by Zach Orr in nickel situations late in the season. There isn’t an obvious every-down replacement waiting in the wings, but Smith will be 34 and carries a $4.375 million cap figure for 2016. In a perfect world, 2013 second-round pick Arthur Brown already would have stepped into the spot next to C.J. Mosley, but we know how that story has played out.

CB Lardarius Webb ($3.5 million)
Skinny: Newsome spoke with conviction at the season-ending press conference about the Ravens moving Webb to free safety, but his $9.5 million cap figure for 2016 would make him one of the most expensive safeties in the league despite his inexperience there. Webb accepted a pay cut a year ago and will likely need to take another one unless the Ravens are that blindly confident in him being a Pro Bowl-caliber safety. The fact that Webb already proclaimed himself to be a safety moving forward probably won’t help his cause in negotiating with the Ravens or on the open market if he’s let go.

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Pitta, Ravens make difficult — and right — decision in end

Posted on 11 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Dennis Pitta desperately wanted to return to the football field this season.

Still loving the game and feeling a sense of obligation to the Ravens after signing a long-term contract last year, the 30-year-old tight end rehabbed rigorously to return from the second serious hip injury suffered in a 14-month period. But the skilled route-runner known for finding open windows in coverage couldn’t separate from the memory of him collapsing to the ground without being touched after making a simple catch in Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2014.

As difficult as the decision was, he and the Ravens made the right one in the end as he will remain on the reserve physically unable to perform list for the rest of the season.

“Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed that I won’t be out there this season,” Pitta said. “It’s something that I’ve been working hard to be able to do. I’ll continue to rehab and do everything I can to make sure I’m healthy and put myself in the best position that I can.”

His disappointment is understandable after playing in just seven games since dislocating and fracturing his right hip the first time in practice on July 27, 2013. Pitta returned to play in the final four games of that season, catching 20 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown.

The healthy return prompted general manager Ozzie Newsome to sign the 2010 fourth-round pick to a five-year, $32 million contract that included $16 million guaranteed. But Pitta injured his hip a second time in Week 3 of the 2014 season and hasn’t played since.

Returning to practice last month after beginning the season on the PUP list, the Brigham Young product acknowledged hearing conflicting opinions from those close to him — including his concerned wife, Mataya —  about whether he should resume his playing career. According to head coach John Harbaugh and teammates, Pitta looked like his old self making plays against the Baltimore defense in practices, but the stability of a twice-repaired hip wouldn’t allow his safe return at this time.

“It didn’t quite respond the way we had hoped,” said Pitta, who added that there were things on and off the field that weren’t “quite right” with the hip. “Sitting down with doctors over the last couple of days, we decided that it was certainly too much of a risk at this time and too unsafe to take the field. That was a decision that we made collectively.

“At the end of the day, we can’t ignore what sound medical science has to say.”

Pitta said Wednesday that he still hopes to continue his career and isn’t yet ready to announce his retirement, but it’s difficult envisioning what would change doctors’ minds next season after he’s already spent 14 months rehabbing from the second injury. Whether the Ravens will keep Pitta on the roster to find out is another story as his guaranteed $5 million salary for 2015 made it a no-brainer for both sides to explore his potential return this season.

Next year, his $5 million salary is not guaranteed and Pitta is scheduled to carry a $7.2 million salary cap figure. Cutting him in the offseason — possibly with a post-June 1 designation — would save cap space and not leave the Ravens on the hook for his 2016 salary in the event of another injury.

Having drafted two rookie tight ends — Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle — this spring after selecting Crockett Gillmore last year, the the organization prepared this offseason as though Pitta would not be able to return to the field.

Even so, the layers of frustration are apparent for both Pitta and the Ravens in the midst of a 2-6 season.

“It’s been kind of a roller-coaster ride,” said Harbaugh, recalling the memories of both injuries. “You have hopes. I was hoping that he’d be able to play. To see him come out here and perform well [in practices], that part of it was a plus. But the other thing that overrides all of that is the fact that you want what’s best for the player. His safety and going forward as far as his quality of life overrides all of it.”

In parts of five seasons in Baltimore, Pitta has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end added three more touchdown catches in the 2012 postseason run that culminated with a win in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, a game in which he caught four passes for 26 yards and a 1-yard touchdown.

No one will ever forget Jacoby Jones’ 70-yard touchdown catch in the divisional-round game in Denver that January, but that game-tying play still may not have mattered if not for Pitta’s catch on third-and-13 from the Ravens’ own 3 in the first overtime period. Baltimore didn’t score on that drive, but the 24-yard reception flipped field position and allowed Sam Koch to eventually punt the ball deep into Denver territory instead of being forced to kick from deep in his own end zone and potentially set the Broncos offense up on a short field.

That critical conversion is easily one of the most underrated plays in franchise history and likely allowed the run to an eventual championship to continue. The spectacular pitch and catch epitomized quarterback Joe Flacco’s trust in his close friend and teammate on the field.

“It’s great to have a guy that you know you can go to and you know what he’s going to do,” Flacco said. “He’s going to be in the right spot, he’s going to win, and he’s going to catch the ball at the end of the day. To have a guy like that on the field with you, it makes your job a little bit easier. He was definitely a big part of that.”

Pitta said Wednesday that he doesn’t want his final play in the NFL to be the one in Cleveland that resulted in him being carted off the field. The Ravens didn’t want that, either.

But both made the right decision not to take the risk of that happening again.

Even if it marks the end of Pitta’s career with the Ravens.

“I’ll continue to work,” Pitta said, “and hopefully that won’t be the end of the story.”

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Clock ticking for Pitta, Perriman to help Ravens in 2015

Posted on 09 November 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Two talented pass-catchers are potentially at opposite ends of their careers with the Ravens.

Each with the clock ticking.

Sixth-year tight end Dennis Pitta faces a Wednesday deadline to determine whether he will attempt to come back this season from the second devastating hip injury of his career suffered more than 13 months ago. Meanwhile, head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged Monday that time is running out if injured first-round receiver Breshad Perriman wants to see the field in his rookie season.

Two weapons, if healthy, who could help quarterback Joe Flacco, but both are surrounded by more questions than answers as the Ravens returned from their bye to begin preparations for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

After beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list, Pitta returned to practice on Oct. 21, triggering a 21-day window to determine whether he would return to live-game action this season. The 30-year-old hasn’t played since dislocating and fracturing his right hip for the second time in a 14-month period on Sept. 21, 2014.

“He did look good in practice. We had a tough time covering him,” said Harbaugh, who stated that an announcement would not come before Wednesday. “He was doing stuff from the ‘look’ team and made a bunch of plays out there and just kind of looked like his old self out there.

“But don’t construe that as saying that he’s ready to go, because it’s not about that. It’s going to be about he and the doctors. The doctors are going to take a hard look at that and help him decide, ‘Is this really safe?’”

Pitta’s return wouldn’t necessarily fill a positional need with the Ravens having selected three tight ends in their last two drafts, but the 2010 fourth-round pick was a favorite target of quarterback Joe Flacco, catching seven touchdowns in his last full season in 2012. Pitta caught three more touchdowns that postseason in helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

Though he’s received positive reviews from teammates and coaches in his return to practice, Pitta acknowledged last month that there were conflicting opinions from those close to him on whether he should return to the football field after his second serious injury, which occurred without him being hit. He also said that retirement would be a distinct possibility if he would not be able to return to the field in 2015.

“Dennis is going to play if he can,” Harbaugh said. “There’s no doubt in my mind based on what I’ve talked to him. If it’s safe and he feels like he can get out there and the hip is responding well, he’s going to play. And if it’s not safe, then he’s not going to play.

“I’m sure Tuesday — it is an off-day — we’ll sit down [and] have a pow-wow on it and figure out if that’s what we’re going to do and what the doctors and he say is the best thing.”

While there isn’t as much long-term concern with Perriman, Harbaugh said Monday that he’d like to see the 26th overall pick of this year’s draft be able to play in even the final four games of the season, but he would need to return to the practice field soon in order for that to happen. The 22-year-old sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on the first day of training camp on July 30 and briefly practiced in late September before a setback prompted arthroscopic surgery and another lengthy absence.

With No. 1 receiver Steve Smith out for the rest of the season and previously intending to retire, Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome would love to take a look at what they have with the first receiver selected in the first round by the organization since Mark Clayton in 2005. The Ravens have carried Perriman on the 53-man roster all season.

“The clock is ticking if he can’t get out there and practice soon,” Harbaugh said. “I’d love to get four games out of him, just so you can see him and he can develop for four games. But that means now we need four weeks of getting him ready to play four games, and I haven’t been told that he’s going to practice this week.

“I think that’s a conversation that the doctors and Ozzie need to have, and we need to make a determination on that real soon.”

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Pitta makes return to practice with future still unclear

Posted on 21 October 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — In the midst of the worst start in franchise history, the Ravens received a bit of good news on Wednesday with the return of veteran tight end Dennis Pitta to the practice field.

Whether they will see him play in a game again remains to be seen.

On the reserve physically unable to perform list after suffering two serious hip injuries in the last two years, the 30-year-old has entered a 21-day practice window to determine whether he will return to live-game action in 2015. Pitta is eligible to be activated at any point during the 21 days, but he must be placed on the 53-man roster or remain on the PUP list for the rest of the season by the end of the practice window.

“It’s a start,” said Pitta after his first practice. “This is an assessment period for us — for me, for the trainers and for the coaches — to really see where we’re at. This is just Day 1 of our journey. I think it felt pretty good and I’m encouraged by that, and [it’s] certainly great to be back out there with my teammates. We’ll see where we go from here.”

Pitta was suited up in full pads, running routes and participating in blocking drills during the portion of practice open to media. Needing to adjust to the speed of the game again and even lamenting a dropped pass during hist first practice practice, Pitta said he didn’t anticipate feeling this good at this point.

By drafting tight ends Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle a year after selecting Crockett Gillmore in the 2014 draft, the Ravens planned not to have Pitta moving forward, but a passing game currently lacking weapons would certainly welcome back a player of his ability — at least prior to the hip injuries.

“I know it’s Dennis’ decision along with his family,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He’s going to see how [the hip] feels out here and how it responds. He’s been working really hard to get himself in position — along with our trainers and our strength and conditioning staff — to prepare for this. We’ll see how it goes. I wouldn’t make too much of it, especially for this week. Don’t get carried away.”

It remains unclear whether Pitta will be able to return this season as he hasn’t played in a game since suffering a second dislocation and fracture of his right hip in Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2014, just 14 months after experiencing the first injury in 2013. The 2010 fourth-round pick did individual work during voluntary workouts in the spring, but he was not cleared to participate in the mandatory June minicamp or training camp this summer.

Pitta says he’s received varying opinions from those close to him over whether to make his latest comeback. The Brigham Young product acknowledged his wife, Mataya, was “not really excited” about his return to the practice field in fear of something going wrong, but he added that she remains supportive over what he’s doing.

“I’ve had people on both ends of the spectrum, certainly people that have discouraged me against it and people that have encouraged me to get back out there,” Pitta said. “I weigh both opinions heavily. Really, I feel good physically, and I’m just excited to continue this process and see where I can get to.”

Signed to a five-year, $32 million contract including $16 million guaranteed prior to last season, Pitta was guaranteed his $4 million base salary for the 2015 season. The veteran tight end has said all along that he wanted to try to make a comeback, but dealing with such a serious injury twice would make anyone ponder his football future as well as his overall quality of life after his career.

Though he’s made no formal decision beyond his current comeback attempt, Pitta indicated that retirement would be a consideration if he’s unable to come back this season.

“I would like to think that if I can’t make it back this year, what’s going to change next year?” Pitta said. “For me, in my mind, I’m working to get back this year. If I can’t, that might be it. That’s certainly undecided, and I don’t really know how to answer that.”

A close friend of quarterback Joe Flacco, Pitta has made 138 catches for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns in his career and also caught a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLVII.

Regardless of whether he ever suits up in a game, the mere sight of a healthy Pitta back on the practice field was a positive development in a season that’s gone so wrong for the Ravens.

“It’s definitely good to see him out there,” said Flacco, who added that will not pressure his friend and teammate to play again. “I think everybody appreciates seeing him in a uniform, and they’re happy for him to be able to get back out there and strap back up.”

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Pitta officially placed on PUP list, Guy returns to practice field

Posted on 01 September 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens trimmed their roster to the NFL-mandated 75 players on Tuesday by officially placing tight end Dennis Pitta on the reserve physically unable to perform list.

Baltimore also waived offensive linemen De’Ondre Wesley and Darryl Baldwin. The latter had been placed on the non-football injury list on Monday.

Attempting to return from a second right hip dislocation and fracture in two years, Pitta has been running routes and working out on his own, but the 30-year-old has not been fully cleared to return to the field. Head coach John Harbaugh had already said last month that Pitta would begin the regular season on the PUP list, meaning he is not eligible to return until Week 7 at the earliest.

The Ravens prepared all offseason as though Pitta would not be able to return to football by drafting tight ends Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle a year after selecting current starter Crockett Gillmore in the third round of the 2014 draft.

“As far as I’m concerned as a coach, I think you plan for the worst, and you hope for the best,” Harbaugh said. “I’m planning on him not being back. That would be the plan from a football standpoint, and I think he’s planning on being back. It’ll just come down to whether it’s a smart thing to do, and whether it’s what he wants to do, and really, what his family wants to do.”

Wesley injured his knee in the preseason loss to Philadelphia on Aug. 22 and had not returned to the practice field.

Defensive end Lawrence Guy (knee) returned to the practice field on Tuesday, a good sign for a thin group of young defensive linemen going into the preseason finale against Atlanta.

Seven players on the active roster were missing from Tuesday’s workout including wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee), defensive linemen Timmy Jernigan (knee) and DeAngelo Tyson (shoulder), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (undisclosed), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (concussion), and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (knee). Second-year defensive end Brent Urban (biceps) remains on the active roster, an indication that the Ravens are considering him placing him on injured reserve with the designation to return.

Teams are only allowed one designation, so the Ravens must weigh the benefits of Urban potentially returning in the second half of the season against the desire to save the option for a potential injury to a more prominent player early in the year.

Williams continues to practice in a red-contact jersey and did not play in the third preseason game against Washington, but Harbaugh would not delve into the specifics of the 2015 second-round pick’s ailments.

“He’s got an issue that we just can’t get him banged around with,” Harbaugh said. “He’s practicing, so he should be there for Denver, but we just want to protect him from a bump. We’ve done that in the past with guys.”

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Brooks activated, Pitta to remain on PUP list to begin season

Posted on 18 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just over eight months after suffering a serious knee injury, Ravens safety Terrence Brooks was activated from the physically unable to perform list on Tuesday.

The 2014 third-round pick returned to the practice field and has progressed quickly from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Dec. 14. General manager Ozzie Newsome initially said in the offseason that Brooks would begin the regular season on the PUP list, but the Florida State product made great strides in the spring, taking part in voluntary workouts.

“I was already up really early before my alarm clock went off,” said Brooks, who added that he hasn’t taken any time off from the rehabilitation process since injuring his knee. “I was ready to get here, but it was a good day. I definitely didn’t want to sit out this whole year. I put in my mind that I was going to come back and be even stronger than before.”

Describing his knee injury as a “wake-up call” after being disappointed with his rookie year, Brooks’ return boosts depth at the safety position, which was thin behind starters Kendrick Lewis and Will Hill. The Ravens lost 2013 first-round pick Matt Elam to a torn biceps in the first week of training camp.

The plan is to bring Brooks along slowly as he was noncommittal about playing in the Ravens’ second preseason game in Philadelphia on Saturday. But Tuesday’s activation made it clear that Baltimore believes Brooks will be ready to contribute in time for the season opener in Denver.

“We’ve been talking about this for about the last week,” Harbaugh said. “We felt like he’s way ahead of his rehab. He has really done a great job. I don’t think you ever really know how well a guy is going to move around, football-wise, until he starts moving around [in that way].”

Pitta won’t return until mid-season at earliest

With Brooks being activated on Tuesday, tight end Dennis Pitta is the only Ravens player remaining on the active PUP list and Harbaugh confirmed his return is not imminent.

The 30-year-old will remain on the PUP list to begin the regular season, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks of action after suffering serious right hip injuries in consecutive years. However, it remains unclear if the 2010 fourth-round pick will play again as the Ravens have prepared for the possibility that Pitta’s playing career could be over.

“There’s more to it than just, ‘Can he play? Should he play? Will he be cleared to play?'” Harbaugh said. “And what [does] being ‘cleared to play’ entail in terms of liability and things like that? There’s a lot to it that has to be worked out. I get the impression that he wants to play. He’s rehabbing like crazy. But he’s going to have to make the decision if it’s the best thing for him going forward.”

After taking Crockett Gillmore in the third round of last year’s draft, the Ravens selected Minnesota’s Maxx Williams in the second round and Delaware’s Nick Boyle in the fifth round this spring, moves that reflected the uncertainty with Pitta’s future. Quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged earlier this summer that he’s gotten used to not having his close friend on the field with the veteran tight end having played in only seven games over the last two seasons.

Tuesday’s injury report

In addition to Brooks, the Ravens also welcomed the returns of cornerback Asa Jackson (knee), wide receiver Michael Campanaro, and rookie offensive lineman Robert Myers (concussion) to the practice field on Tuesday.

Myers had missed nearly two weeks of action since suffering a concussion. Harbaugh added that fellow reserve offensive lineman John Urschel was also close to being cleared after he was also concussed on Aug. 6.

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (hamstring), wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee), left guard Kelechi Osemele (foot), tight end Maxx Williams (undisclosed), linebacker Steven Means (groin), and offensive linemen Jah Reid (undisclosed) and Darryl Baldwin (undisclosed) did not participate in Tuesday’s workout. Webb has responded slowly to a hamstring strain suffered on Aug. 10.

“He had a little bit of a feel for it [and] couldn’t go in the game,” Harbaugh said. “He came out the next day and didn’t feel good the next day. Maybe he aggravated it a little, perhaps. You’ll have to ask him exactly. But it’s not right, right now, and he’s just nursing it and working it and trying to get it right.”

Rashaan Melvin and veteran Kyle Arrington have handled most of reps with the starting defense in Webb’s absence.

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Twenty Ravens players missing from Friday’s practice

Posted on 07 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were missing 20 players from their 90-man preseason roster as they practiced in shells and shorts on Friday afternoon.

A handful of veterans appeared to be awarded the day off as head coach John Harbaugh periodically does, but several notable players continue to nurse injuries.

Wide receivers Breshad Perriman (knee) and Marlon Brown (back) remain sidelined as the Ravens offense has worked without two of its top four wideouts for most of training camp. The first-round pick Perriman has missed seven straight practices after injuring his knee in the final 20 minutes of the first full-squad practice of the summer while Brown has now sat out five of the last six workouts.

Tight end Maxx Williams was also absent on Friday after being poked in the eye and leaving Thursday’s workout early.

Baltimore continues to deal with injury problems at the guard position with starter Kelechi Osemele (foot) and backups John Urschel (head) and Robert Myers (head) all out. Urschel and Myers both left Thursday’s practice with concussions, according to Harbaugh.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive linemen DeAngelo Tyson and Brent Urban were new absences due to unspecified reasons. Cornerbacks Tray Walker and Chris Greenwood remain out with hamstring strains.

Outside linebacker Zach Thompson (undisclosed) was also missing again.

The list of veterans believed to be receiving a day off on Friday included wide receiver Steve Smith, running back Justin Forsett, cornerback Lardarius Webb, linebackers Daryl Smith and Terrell Suggs, and defensive end Chris Canty.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) and safety Terrence Brooks (knee) remain on the active physically unable to perform list.

Already out for the season with a biceps tear, safety Matt Elam rounded out the collection of 20 players not participating in Friday’s workout.


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Ravens shift training camp to M&T Bank Stadium on Monday

Posted on 03 August 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Giving many rookies their first exposure to playing in an NFL stadium, the Ravens conducted an open training camp practice at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night.

With an announced 22,111 attending the workout for free, the Ravens were still missing linebacker Elvis Dumervil (Achilles) tendinitis) and rookie wide receiver Breshad Perriman (knee) as both missed their fourth straight practice. The secondary continues to be banged up as well as rookie Tray Walker (hamstring), Rashaan Melvin (hamstring), and Chris Greenwood (undisclosed) were all missing from Monday’s workout.

Head coach John Harbaugh confirmed after practice that safety Matt Elam would miss the season after suffering a torn biceps on Saturday that will require surgery.

Despite returning to the practice field on a limited basis on Sunday, wide receiver Marlon Brown missed his second workout in three days as he’s nursing a minor back ailment.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) remains on the active physically unable to perform list, but he was running routes in shorts and a t-shirt before the start of Monday’s practice. Safety Terrence Brooks (knee) also remains on the active PUP list.

Defensive tackle Casey Walker (knee) was activated from the PUP list and took part in his first practice of the summer.

Practice highlights

Cornerback Kyle Arrington had a strong night, drawing the ire of Steve Smith after the veteran receiver took exception to the former New England Patriot’s tight coverage on an early pass play. The pair jawed at a couple different points over the remainder of Monday night’s practice.

Despite expectations that he would serve as Baltimore’s nickel back, Arrington has seen extensive on the outside with starter Lardarius Webb moving into the slot when the Ravens use three cornerbacks. Arrington also had an impressive breakup against Kamar Aiken in 1-on-1 drills.

Backup quarterback Matt Schaub continued his early-camp struggles by heaving a pass into triple coverage that was intercepted by rookie free agent Nick Perry.

The Ravens limited No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith’s reps on the stadium turf, but he registered an interception on a Joe Flacco pass that was intended for Michael Campanaro. The starting quarterback was not happy that Campanaro drifted on his sideline pattern, allowing Smith to undercut the route.

Rookie tight end Maxx Williams had arguably his best practice as a professional in beating Arthur Brown in coverage to catch a long touchdown pass from third-string quarterback Bryn Renner. However, Williams later dropped what would have been a touchdown despite having a step on starting linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Kicker Justin Tucker drew one of the loudest ovations of the night when he drilled a 64-yard field goal.

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