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Ravens take training camp on road to Annapolis

Posted on 04 August 2013 by Luke Jones

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. — After a successful first trip to Annapolis last year, the Ravens once again took training camp on the road Sunday in a public practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Ravens drew more than 20,000 fans to Annapolis last year for one of three public practices to offset the discontinuation of training camp in Westminster. Once again, Baltimore will hold practices at M&T Bank Stadium as well as Stevenson University this summer in an effort to give fans an opportunity to see them practice.

The organization did not have an official attendance figure after Sunday’s practice, but a team official described the crowd  as “comparable” to last year’s turnout.

Baltimore is now two weeks into camp and still a few days away from its preseason opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making Sunday a golden opportunity to break up the monotony of daily practices at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. It also provided a stadium setting for rookie players getting ready for their first live-game action on Thursday.

“The great thing about it is that you get in a situation like this where you’re in a stadium,” Harbaugh said. “It’s amazing how guys’ brains seem to shut down the first time they get into a new environment. So, you go down to Tampa and you go on the road in a game, and it’s hard for them, so they start making little mistakes. I think this will be a stepping-stone towards that.”

Safety James Ihedigbo (neck) and wide receiver David Reed (groin) were new absentees on Sunday, joining Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda (shoulder), linebacker Jameel McClain (neck), offensive lineman Ryan Jensen (foot), and defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore as non-participants. According to the Ravens’ official Twitter account on Friday, Ihedigbo was shaken up on the final play of practice in Owings Mills, but the injury wasn’t believed to be serious.

Both Harbaugh and Ihedigbo confirmed the strong safety is dealing with a minor neck injury. Ihedigbo was listed as the starter on the team’s first depth chart released last week as he continues to compete with first-round pick Matt Elam, who took the reps with the first-team defense on Sunday.

“We’re just giving James a rest on the neck,” Harbaugh said. “He kind of got tweaked a little bit – [there’s] a little strain in there. It’s from the special teams drills. He goes pretty hard in there, so more than anything, I want to back him off a little bit.”

Tight end Ed Dickson practiced on Sunday but left the field early in the session after tweaking his hamstring. The injury forced veteran Visanthe Shiancoe into extensive action with the starting offense.

Harbaugh eased concerns about Dickson’s status after practice as the Ravens are already dealing with the season-ending hip injury suffered by starting tight end Dennis Pitta.

“His hamstring grabbed a little bit, so we pulled him out for precautionary reasons,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll take a look at it tomorrow and see how it looks and see where we’re at.”

Offensive lineman Ramon Harewood returned to the practice field for the first time in over a week Sunday after receiving an injection to alleviate swelling in his knee.

Fans greeted players with loud cheers and enthusiasm as they took the field shortly after 5 p.m., with Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco receiving the loudest reaction.

Tucker comes up short by his long standards

Kicker Justin Tucker had no problem converting a series of kicks from under 50 yards Sunday, but the Ravens once again tested the limits of his remarkable range.

After missing a 58-yard attempt wide to the left, Tucker came up just short on kicks from 63, 65, and 68 yards. The second-year kicker hit the crossbar on a 63-yarder, which is the distance equaling the NFL record.

“It was fun,” said Harbaugh, who’s teased his kicker whenever he’s missed from record-setting distances this summer. “It was great to see him out here in front of the crowd and get the long field goals. I’m always disappointed when he misses those 69-yarders, you know?”

McKinnie sounds off on weight issue

Left tackle Bryant McKinnie appeared to be growing tired of the questions about his weight on Sunday after he missed the first full-squad workout two weeks ago for being roughly 10 pounds overweight.

The 33-year-old has taken part in every workout since, but he is still trying to reach his target weight of 346 pounds that was prescribed by the teae. McKinnie said Sunday that he hasn’t played at that weight since 2002 but is moving closer to it.

“It’s not an issue,” McKinnie said. “I’m not like a big, huge guy. I’m not fat or sloppy. People will see me and they’re like, ‘Oh, you lost a lot of weight.’ Actually, I didn’t. It’s just every time I’m overweight — whether it’s five or 10 pounds — people assume I’ve just ballooned up.”

Odds & ends

Flacco and wide receiver Torrey Smith appeared to be picking on third-year cornerback Chykie Brown as they connected for two touchdowns against him during 11-on-11 drills. The pair completed a score on a comeback route on which Brown lost his footing and later connected on a touchdown strike on a quick inside slant in the red zone. … Rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette caught a long touchdown from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor as the seventh-round pick beat cornerback Asa Jackson to catch a pretty pass. … Wide receiver Jacoby Jones had the most impressive route of the day, burning Jimmy Smith badly on a double move that caused the third-year defensive back to fall down during a 1-on-1 drill. … Rookie cornerback Moe Lee intercepted a Tyrod Taylor pass in a team drill, showing a quick break on the ball to continue his impressive camp despite an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. … Owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome were present after attending Jonathan Ogden’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio on Saturday night. As practice was concluding, Bisciotti heeded the cries of young fans to show off his Super Bowl ring, pretending to toss the ring into the stands before walking over and offering the children a closer look at the gaudy piece of jewelry.


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Pitta done for season with dislocated hip

Posted on 27 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens suffered a major blow during practice Saturday.

“Dennis (Pitta) has a dislocated hip” head coach John Harbaugh announced following practice. “We’ll have to take a look at that and see exactly what it is. It’s a serious injury. He’s going to be out for awhile, he will not be in the Denver game (Week 1). We’ll just have to play it from there to see how long it goes.”

ESPN reported Saturday night that Pitta, who was transported to a local hospital and underwent surgery immediately, is expected to miss the entire season.

The injury occurred after the tight end collided with S James Ihedigbo on a pass play in the back of the end zone. Saturday’s practice was the first padded practice of this year’s Training Camp.

The injury is a major blow for the Baltimore Ravens, who traded WR Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason. Pitta had been hoped to build on his 2012 season (61 catches, 669 yards, seven touchdowns) to help replace Boldin.

Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema and rookie Matt Furstenburg all saw snaps with the first team offense after Pitta’s departure. Free agent TE Visanthe Shiancoe (Morgan State) visited the Ravens’ facility earlier in the week but did not sign. Rookie FB Kyle Juszczek could also be asked to help out in the process, especially if the Ravens were to re-sign current free agent FB Vonta Leach as the Newark Star-Ledger reported Thursday night they are expected to do.

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell suggested the Ravens would continue their “next man up” mentality.

“Somebody’s going to have to step up and we do have some capable guys. All across the flanks we do have some weapons. We’re just going to have to have some guys make some plays for us.”

Dickson-a fellow fourth year tight end-moves to the top of the tight end depth chart in Pitta’s absence. Dickson told WNST.net “it’s on me to go out there and build chemistry with (QB) Joe (Flacco) and to do the things that I do to the best of my ability.”

Dickson also told WNST.net he sent Pitta a text after practice saying “Keep your head up…the injury’s not going to hold you down. We need you. Praying for you…I’m holding down the fort for you.”

Dickson’s 2012 numbers were disappointing as he fought through injuries. The tight end played in just 13 games and caught 21 balls for 225 yards without a touchdown grab. “Ed has been playing and performing extremely well” Caldwell said. “He’s had a good camp thus far. He’s moving well, he’s catching the ball for us, he has a lot of big play potential. Ed is a very capable guy. We’re going to have to have some other guys step up as well.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a dislocated hip usually takes upwards of 2-3 months for recovery and rehabilitation.

Making matters worse for the Ravens is their lack of depth at receiver as well. Without Boldin, only Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have more than even 123 career receiving yards. Doss has those 123, David Reed 66, Deonte Thompson 51, LaQuan Williams 46. Neither Tommy Streeter nor rookie Aaron Mellette has ever played in a NFL game.

YANDA REMAINS OUT: Despite being removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list Friday, OL Marshal Yanda (shoulder) was not present Saturday, but is expected to return shortly. S Anthony Levine (shoulder) was on the practice for a second straight day after being removed from the PUP list. LB Jameel McClain (back) remains on the PUP list and did not practice Saturday.

OT Bryant McKinnie (conditioning) left practice early Friday as coach John Harbaugh had concerns for how he’d hold up in the heat, he was back on the practice field Saturday afternoon. OL Kelechi Osemele (hamstring) and Ryan Jensen (leg) were not present for Saturday’s practice. WR LaQuan Williams (arm) and Marlon Brown (knee) were not present as well.

DL Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) remains on the non-football injury list and is not expected to practice during Training Camp.

OTHER PRACTICE NOTES: S Omar Brown appears to have switched jersey numbers, going from number 38 to number 31.

K Justin Tucker stood out during Saturday’s practice, including makes from 60 yards and 65 yards out. After the make from 65, Tucker let out an exclamation of “Come on!”

LB Terrell Suggs had the quote of the day. After making a tackle on a goal line stop against the first team offense, Suggs yelled out “Where the f*ck is Vonta Leach when you need him?”

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Ravens add depth to secondary

Posted on 14 March 2013 by Luke Jones

Bracing for the potential departure of nine-time Pro Bowl safety and future Hall of Famer Ed Reed as he visited the Houston Texans on Thursday, the Ravens continued to build depth in their secondary.

In addition to officially announcing the re-signing of safety James Ihedigbo, the Ravens have re-signed veteran cornerback Chris Johnson to a one-year contract. The 33-year-old Johnson was signed the week leading up to the Ravens’ Nov. 18 game at Pittsburgh, which coincided with second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith undergoing sports hernia surgery.

Johnson was active in that game against the Steelers but sustained a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the next games. He made one start when the Ravens opened in their nickel defense against the Denver Broncos and saw action in four regular-season games. posting seven solo tackles and one forced fumble.

In his nine-year career, he’s accumulated 164 tackles, eight interceptions, and four forced fumbles while making stops in Green Bay, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Oakland.

With free-agent cornerback Cary Williams signing a three-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday — a departure that wasn’t unexpected — Johnson will be in competition to make the 53-man roster behind Lardarius Webb, Smith, Corey Graham, and Chykie Brown on the depth chart.

The signing of Ihedigbo first became known on Tuesday, and the six-year veteran could find himself in a starting role depending on how the Ravens fare in free agency and April’s draft. The former Patriot and Jet made three starts and played in all 16 games, posting 19 tackles and one sack in his first season with the Ravens.

In his pro career, Ihedigbo has recorded 109 tackles and six sacks. He is also regarded as an effective blitzer and excellent special-teams player.

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Pollard latest veteran to exit as Ravens part ways with safety

Posted on 13 March 2013 by Luke Jones

The Ravens made another difficult move on Wednesday morning in parting ways with veteran strong safety Bernard Pollard.

The 28-year-old defensive back announced via his official Twitter account that he was being let go after two years in Baltimore. Pollard was owed a $500,000 roster bonus later this week and carried a $3.25 million salary cap number for the 2013 season. His release will save $1 million in cap space.

“Well Raven Nation it’s been fun,” Pollard wrote. “My time in Baltimore is done… Thank you!”

Pollard was limited to 13 games last year as he dealt with cracked ribs over the course of the season. He finished with 98 tackles, two sacks, and an interception.

Looking with 20-20 hindsight, Baltimore tipped its hand by re-signing veteran backup James Ihedigbo to a one-year deal on Tuesday. Ihedigbo made three starts in place of Pollard last season.

A key free-agent addition after the NFL lockout ended in 2011, Pollard instantly became a fan favorite with his physical style of play, but the safety also drew criticism for his propensity to draw penalties for illegal hits. That said, his punishing — but legal — blow to Patriots running back Stevan Ridley in the AFC championship game was considered the turning point in the Ravens seizing complete control in their 28-13 win to advance to the Super Bowl.

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Ravens, Ihedigbo agree to one-year deal

Posted on 12 March 2013 by Luke Jones

With plenty of doubt surrounding the future of safety Ed Reed in Baltimore, the Ravens have re-signed his understudy as an insurance policy at the start of free agency.

Reserve safety James Ihedigbo has agreed to a one-year contract to remain with the Ravens. Signed just before the start of the 2012 regular season, Ihedigbo played in all 16 games and made three starts while also serving on special teams for the Super Bowl champion Ravens.

The former New England Patriot and New York Jet collected 25 tackles and a sack as a reserve for the Baltimore defense. He started three games in place of an injured Bernard Pollard at strong safety last December.

Liked by teammates, the 29-year-old Ihedigbo is a quality depth signing on a one-year contract as the Ravens deal with the uncertain future of Reed.

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Difficult decisions still loom for Ravens after locking up Flacco

Posted on 02 March 2013 by Luke Jones

General manager Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens front office had to wake up smiling the morning after reaching an agreement in principle with Joe Flacco on a six-year, $120.6 million contract that’s expected to be finalized Monday.

The move not only locks up the franchise quarterback for the long haul, but it’s also expected to provide short-term relief to a tight salary cap that would have had a difficult time absorbing a minimum of $14.9 million with the non-exclusive franchise tag. All the terms of the record-setting contract have yet to be released, but the 2013 cap number is just $7 million, according to CBS Sports’ Jason LaCanfora.

Estimated to have roughly $18 million in cap space before accounting for their quarterback or any of their unrestricted, restricted, or exclusive-rights free agents, the Ravens will now have some space to maneuver but not enough to change the entire landscape of their offseason. Moderation will be the key as Newsome will look to sign a couple of his own unrestricted free agents, make wise decisions on his seven restricted free agents, and then turn toward the open market to explore some shrewd signings.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect as the Ravens address their remaining free agents:

No tag this year

The first order of business will be the potential use of the franchise tag as teams have until Monday at 4 p.m. to designate a player if they so desire. Many have begun asking if Newsome and the Ravens will now use the tag on outside linebacker Paul Kruger or inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but we received a preliminary answer to that query just a few days after the Super Bowl.

“If we get a deal done with Joe, we will not franchise another player,” said Newsome as he appealed to owner Steve Bisciotti with a humorous tone. “We will not do that. You are OK with that, right?”

The 2013 tag numbers released by the NFL on Friday suggest that stance isn’t changing as the Ravens would be looking at a $9.6 million cost at the linebacker position. As it relates to Kruger, the pass rusher could contest that he should be considered a defensive end, which commands an $11.175 million tag number for the 2013 season.

Those price tags are far too expensive for Kruger or Ellerbe as the Ravens would be looking at massive cuts to accommodate the franchise tag, regardless of what Flacco’s 2013 cap number ultimately is.

Cuts still coming

We’ve spent plenty of time discussing which veterans might be on the chopping block due to cap constraints and the Ravens will still pull the trigger on a few. It just won’t be the mass exodus that was feared if Flacco had received either of the franchise tag options.

Offensive lineman Bobbie Williams is the easiest decision as the Ravens will clear $1.2 million from their cap by releasing the 36-year-old lineman. Linebackers Brendon Ayanbadejo ($806,000 in savings) and Jameel McClain ($1.8 million saved) are also likely to go, with McClain becoming far more expendable if the Ravens can sign Dannell Ellerbe to a long-term deal before he hits the open market.

It would be an unpopular decision, but fullback Vonta Leach remains an intriguing option to release as it would save $3 million in cap space. Leach is tremendous at what he does as the best pure fullback in the NFL, but the Ravens are clearly moving toward a pass-heavy attack after committing the richest contract in league history to their quarterback.

The 31-year-old Leach took part in just 39.7 percent of the Ravens’ offensive snaps in the postseason, so can you justify devoting that big of a cap number to the fullback with other pressing needs at left tackle and all over the defense? Should they part ways with Leach, tight end Ed Dickson could serve in more of an H-back capacity and the Ravens could look to a younger, cheaper option coming out of college.

The Flacco contract means wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones are very likely to be safe, but the Ravens could explore reasonable contract extensions for both as they enter the final years of their respective contracts, thus lowering their cap numbers for 2013. This is especially true for Boldin, who carries a $7.5 million number for the upcoming season and proved himself worthy of a couple more years in Baltimore after an outstanding postseason.

Prioritizing unrestricted free agents


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The Five Plays That Determined The Game – Ravens/Steelers

Posted on 20 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday at Heinz Field…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Corey Graham intercepts Byron Leftwich pass intended for Emmanuel Sanders on 3rd & 8 (3rd quarter)

4. Corey Graham breaks up Byron Leftwich pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery in endzone (3rd quarter)

3. Brett Keisel defensive offsides negates James Harrison sack on 3rd & 7 (4th quarter)

2. James Ihedigbo sacks Byron Leftich for seven yard loss on 3rd & 11 (4th quarter)

1. Jacoby Jones 63 yard TD return of Drew Butler punt (1st quarter)

(Ryan’s Plays on Page 2…)

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Cary Williams

4. Ray Rice

3. James Ihedigbo

2. Anquan Boldin

1. Corey Graham (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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Harbaugh looks back, but doesn’t regret decision making in loss to Eagles

Posted on 17 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Repeating the phrase he offered in the minutes following the Ravens’ 24-23 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh had no problem with those questioning his team’s decision making in the closing minutes.

With the Ravens needing only one yard to move the chains during their final drive, Harbaugh once again said it was fair to critique the choice to throw passes on third and fourth down that resulted in incompletions and a turnover on downs with 50 seconds remaining.

But that doesn’t mean Harbaugh believed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron made the wrong play calls on that final drive, either.

“You always look back on it,” Harbaugh said. “Any time it doesn’t work, you look back on it and say, ‘I wish we had done something else. I’m pretty sure if we’d called a run and it hadn’t gone [for a first down], you’d have been wondering why we hadn’t thrown. We all would have. That’s fair — I think it’s always part of the conversation. It’s something you study. No two situations are ever the same.

“We will do whatever we think gives us the best chance to convert.”

Over the course of Sunday’s game, the Ravens faced six situations in which it was third or fourth down and they needed two yards or less to move the chains. In each case, Baltimore not only passed the ball but did it from the shotgun formation.

None of those six situations were converted as media and fans alike have questioned why the Ravens shied away from even attempting to run the ball in short-yardage situations, especially considering quarterback Joe Flacco completed just eight of his 25 pass attempts in the second half. Harbaugh credited the Eagles defense’s ability to stop the run in the second half and pointed out the Ravens employed a similar strategy in their Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Anything from third-and-1 to [third-and-4], we threw the ball,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we did the week before. There will be times when we’ll run the ball. I think a lot of it was they were stacking the box against us. When they do that, we have some options in there to throw or to run. A lot of it was called passes, all things that we have a lot of confidence in, so I feel good about that. I think we’re going to make most of those, but we didn’t and I’m disappointed about the fact that we didn’t convert those.”

In addition to their reluctance to run the ball in those key spots late in the game, the Ravens also appeared to abandon their no-huddle offense that worked so successfully against Cincinnati to the tune of 44 points.

The offense used a very loose form of a huddle close to the line of scrimmage for nearly the entire second half and operated at a much slower tempo than it did the week before and in most of the preseason. However, Harbaugh said that was by design and dismissed the suggestion that the no-huddle offense was scrapped due to the road environment of playing at Lincoln Financial Field.

“Crowd noise is always a factor in a stadium like that, especially when the game got close,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t feel like it was tabled. We were still in it to some extent. Our pace was what we wanted it to be in terms of we were more in run-pass. We were at the line calling plays quite a bit and we were in [the] huddle a little bit.”

Pollard’s toughness faces test with rib injury

As the Ravens turn their sights toward the New England Patriots for a Sunday night home game, the status of Bernard Pollard will be closely monitored throughout the week after the strong safety suffered a rib contusion in Sunday’s loss.

Pollard exited the game after bringing down Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on a sack to end the first quarter. X-rays were negative as Harbaugh described the injury to Pollard’s chest as a “rib contusion” after the game.

The coach implied Monday that Pollard will have far more of a say than anyone else in determining whether he suits up to play against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

“We’ll see about Bernard. He’s got a little rib [contusion] in there,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just going to come down to him and how he can deal with that pain. He is a pretty tough guy.”

Veteran newcomer James Ihedigbo played in Pollard’s place over the final three quarters Sunday and finished with two solo tackles, one of them going for a loss.

Tight end trouble


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Ravens tight ends expect to be game-time decisions Monday

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Since both of their tight ends went down with injuries early in the preseason, the Ravens have maintained all along that Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson would be ready for the start of the regular season.

And while both have been practicing on a limited basis since last week, the pair took a more cautious approach in assessing their chances for taking the field against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night. Both Dickson and Pitta said they expect to be game-time decisions following practice on Wednesday.

Pitta has been sidelined since undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand early in camp while Dickson sprained his right shoulder in the Ravens’ preseason opener in Atlanta. Their absence from the field has provided an extra challenge to quarterback Joe Flacco and an offense with an increased emphasis on the no-huddle attack this season.

“A lot more mental preparation, obviously, but it’s nice to be back on the field now,” Pitta said. “I’ve been able to be out there for the last week or so running around and catching the football. It’s nice to be back running plays and developing that chemistry again with Joe and with the offense. Hopefully, it will feel good come game day.”

Coach John Harbaugh insists that players not discuss information related to injuries, so it’s difficult to determine just how serious the tight ends are about being in danger of not playing. The first official injury report of the week will not be released until Thursday evening, but Dickson and Pitta will have been practicing for a full two weeks, which makes it difficult to believe they might not play.

Both players have not partaken in any contact during practices, so it will be interesting to see what their level of participation is this week in practice. Veteran Billy Bajema is the third tight end on the roster.

“Practice until we get to that game,” Dickson said. “Like I said, if it was a personal decision, I don’t care how I’d feel — I’d be out there. I’m here to help the team win. I want to be out there for my team, but I don’t want to hurt the team.”

As you’d expect, Pitta is trying to gain more confidence in catching the football after being sidelined for a month and having his hand in a cast. The third-year tight end felt thankful that he injured the hand so early in camp to allow plenty of time for recovery.

“We just prepare ourselves each day, and we hope to play,” Pitta said. “Obviously, we don’t know at this point and we’ll see how it feels in the next few days, but we’re doing everything we can to prepare ourselves to play because we want to be out there and help our team.”

While both tight ends expressed the need to regain their timing with Flacco, neither anticipated that process taking very long after the success the pair enjoyed last season. Dickson and Pitta combined for 94 catches, 933 yards, and eight touchdown catches last year.

“Joe and I have a good relationship,” Pitta said. “We trust one other on the field, so it’s just about regaining that timing and confidence and all that. We’re able to do that a little bit this week.”

Yanda, Upshaw ready to go Monday

As we learned late last season when rib and leg injuries landed him in the hospital before he still wound up playing in the regular-season finale, it takes quite a bit to keep Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda off the field.

Therefore, it was no secret that the tweaked knee Yanda had suffered after being accidentally undercut by a teammate in practice two weeks ago was a little more serious than the Ravens were leading on. The sixth-year lineman revealed Wednesday he suffered an MCL sprain but declared himself ready to play in the season opener.

“I feel great, I’m 100 percent — the knee’s good,” Yanda said. “[The ligament] was loose for a while, but it’s definitely tightening back up. I just wear the brace and the tape just for precaution.”

Yanda missed the final two preseason games as veteran Bobbie Williams shifted over to right guard and rookie Kelechi Osemele played left guard against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens rested their starting offensive line in the fourth preseason game.

After an uncertain summer in which the Ravens rotated tackles and left guards in determining what their starting lineup would look like against Cincinnati — a question that still remains unanswered to some degree — Yanda remains the dependable foundation of the unit. The timing of the injury allowed Yanda to rest his body when he otherwise would have pushed through the ailment had it occurred in the regular season.

“It was hurt. It was loose, so I wasn’t going to fight through it during the preseason and make it worse,” said Yanda, who believed he could have played had it been the regular season. “We were just going to let it heal all the way, and that’s what it’s done.”

Questions remain regarding the stability of Williams’ surgically-repaired right ankle and the fact that three  of the five projected starters are on the wrong side of thirty, but the unit appears to be in much better shape with Yanda’s knee no longer being a concern.

“You always want to start the season healthy,” Yanda said. “It’s a long year and I’m going to do that, so that’s great. I’ll be ready to roll [and] flying around.”

Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw also said he will be ready to play after tweaking the same shoulder he sprained earlier in the summer in the Ravens’ preseason finale last Thursday.

Ihedigbo ready to step in wherever needed


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