Tag Archive | "NFL"

Ravens sign former Chargers defensive end Guy

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Ravens sign former Chargers defensive end Guy

Posted on 24 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens continued tinkering with their 53-man roster Wednesday by claiming former San Diego Chargers defensive end Lawrence Guy off waivers to boost depth along a banged-up defensive line.

Having already lost young defensive linemen Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore to season-ending injuries during training camp, the Ravens were without veteran starter Chris Canty during Wednesday’s practice before signing Guy, who was let go by San Diego on Tuesday. Rookie defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is also currently out with a meniscus injury to his knee.

Baltimore cut wide receiver Deonte Thompson for the second time in less than a week to make room for Guy on the 53-man roster.

The 24-year-old was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the seventh round of the 2011 draft and eventually caught on with Indianapolis in 2012 after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. In 24 career games with the Colts and Chargers, Guy has collected 38 tackles, one sack, and four pass breakups.

Guy had appeared in each of the Chargers’ first three games, playing 47 snaps but failing to record any tackles.

The Ravens also announced they re-signed running back Fitz Toussaint to their practice squad a day after waiving him to make room on the 53-man roster for the returning Thompson.

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Ravens left tackle Monroe sidelined after undergoing minor knee surgery

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Ravens left tackle Monroe sidelined after undergoing minor knee surgery

Posted on 24 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Just a few days after losing starting tight end Dennis Pitta for the rest of the season, the Ravens learned they would be without their left tackle for a few weeks after Eugene Monroe underwent minor knee surgery on Wednesday.

Head coach John Harbaugh made the announcement following practice as rookie free agent James Hurst is expected to start in Monroe’s place against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. It remains unclear how long Monroe will be sidelined after his knee limited him in practice last week and during the Week 3 win over the Cleveland Browns last Sunday, but Harbaugh said it will be “some number of weeks.”

“To not have him is going to be different, but it’s honestly something that I try not to pay too much attention to,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “I think Hurst is going to come in to fill in and do a great job. And that’s all I can really do is go back there and have confidence that we’re going to do everything in our power to play well, and he’s going to play well. I have all the confidence in the world in him.”

It had become clear that Monroe’s knee was impacting his play as he graded out poorly against the Browns. According to Pro Football Focus, Monroe received the lowest grade among the Ravens’ five starting linemen through the first three weeks of the 2014 season.

Undrafted from the University of North Carolina, Hurst saw his draft stock plummet after he suffered a broken fibula in the Tar Heels’ bowl game in late December. Prior to the leg injury, many draft pundits envisioned him as an early- to mid-round pick who had an impressive performance against eventual No. 1 pick Jadeveon Clowney in North Carolina’s 2013 season opener against South Carolina.

Hurst said Monroe informed him of the news on Wednesday morning and that the veteran offered to do anything he can to help him prepare in the coming weeks. Though acknowledging butterflies about making his first career NFL start, Hurst pointed to the veteran experience on the offensive line as well as position coach Juan Castillo to help him out.

“I think if you’re not nervous, you don’t realize what’s happening,” Hurst said. “It’s a big situation. I’m excited about it. There are going to be nerves. Everybody has nerves. It’s just a matter of going out there and knowing that you prepared and you’ve done everything you can for that opportunity.”

Hurst would become become the first rookie to start at left tackle for the Ravens since Michael Oher in 2009.

Asked where Monroe’s injury left the Ravens at the left tackle position, Harbaugh hesitated in answering before acknowledging Hurst as the listed backup for the spot. Instead of moving left guard Kelechi Osemele outside or flipping right tackle Rick Wagner to the opposite side, the Ravens appear content in maintaining continuity with the rest of the line and will likely offer as much help as they can to Hurst’s side.

“Next man up like it always does,” said Harbaugh about what the injury meant for the offensive line. “That’s the depth chart. It’s pretty straightforward. I mean, it’s obvious.”

Monroe signed a five-year, $37.5 million contract to remain in Baltimore this offseason after he was traded by the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Ravens for a fourth- and a fifth-round selection last October.

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Ravens breaking out black jerseys against Carolina

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Ravens breaking out black jerseys against Carolina

Posted on 24 September 2014 by Luke Jones

As veteran wide receiver Steve Smith prepares to play his former team, he’ll be dressed in style when the Carolina Panthers come to Baltimore as the Ravens will wear their alternate black jerseys on Sunday.

Popular with players and fans alike, the Ravens will don their black tops for the 17th time since the alternate look was introduced in 2004. Baltimore holds an 11-5 record when wearing the black jerseys and is 8-2 under head coach John Harbaugh.

Last year, the Ravens lost when they wore black jerseys with white pants against the Green Bay Packers before beating the Pittsburgh Steelers while sporting all-black uniforms on Thanksgiving night later in the season.

The Panthers will be visiting M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since 2006 when they beat the Ravens in a 23-21 final that included a huge day from Smith that included eight catches for 189 yards and a touchdown against his future team.

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Four Ravens starters missing from Wednesday’s practice

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Four Ravens starters missing from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 24 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens returned to the practice field Wednesday to prepare for their first non-divisional game of the season against the Carolina Panthers without four veteran starters participating.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (leg), linebacker Terrell Suggs (groin), left tackle Eugene Monroe (knee), and defensive end Chris Canty were absent during the portion of practice open to media. In addition to the four veterans, rookie defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan remains sidelined with a meniscus injury that forced him to miss last Sunday’s game against the Browns.

Head coach John Harbaugh revealed after practice that Monroe underwent knee surgery on Wednesday afternoon and will be sidelined for “some number of weeks.” Rookie free agent James Hurst is expected to fill in at left tackle.

Even with their 23-21 win against Cleveland, the Ravens were clearly banged up after playing their third straight game against an AFC North opponent. Suggs was clearly limited at the end of the game, but the 12-year linebacker downplayed the significance of his groin injury after the win.

The good news during Wednesday’s practice was the return of running back Bernard Pierce (thigh) after he missed last Sunday’s game.

The Ravens were practicing in full pads on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers had six players sidelined during their first practice of the week including starting linebacker Thomas Davis, starting strong safety Roman Harper, and running back Jonathan Stewart. However, the Panthers received good news with wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and starting running back DeAngelo Williams practicing fully.

Here is the full Wednesday injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DE Chris Canty (knee), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), T Eugene Monroe (knee), CB Jimmy Smith (knee/ankle), LB Terrell Suggs (thigh)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Bernard Pierce (thigh)

CAROLINA
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LB Thomas Davis (hip), CB Charles Godfrey (ankle), S Roman Harper (knee), RB Jonathan Stewart (knee), RB Fozzy Whittaker (thigh), T Garry Williams (back)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Jerricho Cotchery (thigh), RB DeAngelo Williams (thigh)

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Ravens promote tight end Supernaw to 53-man roster

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Ravens promote tight end Supernaw to 53-man roster

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens promoted tight end Phillip Supernaw from the practice squad to the 53-man roster after placing Dennis Pitta on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday.

Supernaw was signed by the Ravens in the spring after spending two years in Houston under Gary Kubiak. The 24-year-old was primarily a member of the Texans’ practice squad, but he did appear in one game last season. Supernaw was cut from the roster at the end of the preaseason before being signed to the practices squad.

With Pitta out for the season after dislocating his right hip for the second time in 14 months on Sunday, veteran Owen Daniels and rookie Crockett Gillmore move up the depth chart with Supernaw becoming the No. 3 tight end. The Ouachita Baptist product’s familiarity with Kubiak’s system made him preferable over a number of tight ends the Ravens reportedly tried out on Tuesday.

To fill Supernaw’s spot on the practice squad, the Ravens signed tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi. Undrafted out of Georgia State in 2013, Ogbuehi has spent time with Washington, Miami, and Cleveland and was most recently on the Browns’ practice squad earlier this month.

The Ravens also re-signed wide receiver Deonte Thompson and waived running back Fitz Toussaint earlier on Tuesday.

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Ravens re-sign wide receiver Thompson, waive running back Toussaint

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Ravens re-sign wide receiver Thompson, waive running back Toussaint

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

The 53-man roster carousel continued Tuesday as the Ravens re-signed wide receiver Deonte Thompson and waived rookie running back Fitz Toussaint.

Baltimore decided to cut Thompson the day before the Week 3 win at Cleveland to promote Toussaint to the active roster with starting running back Bernard Pierce out due to a thigh injury. Toussaint was on the field for one special-teams play, and it appears that Tuesday’s move is an encouraging indication of Pierce’s availability to play against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4.

Thompson was inactive in each of the Ravens’ first two games, but he is a backup return specialist to Jacoby Jones, who is struggling as a receiver so far this season.

It appears likely that the Ravens will re-sign Toussaint to the practice squad should he clear waivers.

The Ravens also announced they’ve re-signed rookie defensive tackle A.J. Pataiali’i to their practice squad.

Though not confirmed by the team as of early Tuesday afternoon, inside linebacker Josh Bynes has been signed off the practice squad by the Detroit Lions, who are looking for depth following the season-ending knee injury suffered by Stephen Tulloch on Sunday. Bynes is now reunited with Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who both served as assistants in Baltimore prior to this offseason.

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-21 win over Cleveland

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Five numbers behind Ravens’ 23-21 win over Cleveland

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

After every Ravens game this season, we’ll take a look at five numbers that help explain the outcome …

2 — The number of field goals missed by former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff
Skinny: The Ravens were fortunate to come away with a win in Cleveland, and they can thank their former kicker for another wide-left try that brought back a not-so-pleasant memory. Cundiff’s second kick was blocked by Asa Jackson, but the Ravens defensive back acknowledged after the game that the attempt came out lower than normal. Both sides made mistakes that could have cost them the game, but Cundiff’s fourth-quarter misses were pivotal in keeping the Ravens within striking distance.

3 — The number of incompletions thrown by Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer on the final two drives
Skinny: Overall, it was a brutal day for the Ravens secondary as Hoyer completed 19 of 25 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown, but three of those six incompletions came on the Browns’ final two drives of the game when they simply needed some first downs to run out the clock. Instead, the Browns went three-and-out each time and the Ravens finally cashed in on their final drive to set up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. As poorly as the defense played for long stretches of Sunday’s game, the group was able to come up with two big stops when the Ravens needed them.

3.1 — The yards per carry allowed by the Ravens defense
Skinny: Baltimore’s outside linebackers still need to do a more consistent job of setting the edge, but a stout Cleveland running game found little room to work save for a handful of plays. Even though Hoyer played well, the Browns would have likely been able to put the game away had they ran with any consistency. Over Cleveland’s final two offensive drives, the Ravens gave up six rushing yards on three carries and forced two punts to keep their hopes alive. The front seven may not be getting enough pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but playing the run hasn’t been too large of a problem through three weeks.

75 — The number of receiving yards produced by Steve Smith in the fourth quarter
Skinny: Through three quarters, the 35-year-old wide receiver had caught just one pass for 26 yards on three targets, but that changed when Joe Flacco began looking his way often in the final 15 minutes. Targeted four times in the fourth quarter, Smith made four receptions and was the only receiver the Ravens quarterback trusted in crunch time. With Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones struggling to get acclimated in Gary Kubiak’s offense and Dennis Pitta exiting in the second quarter, Steve Smith’s ability to beat Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden for the 32-yard reception on the final drive was obviously the biggest play of the game.

157 — The number of rushing yards reached by the Baltimore offense for the second straight week
Skinny: The Ravens finished with 160 yards on 33 attempts, but hitting the 157-yard plateau in two straight games illustrates how far the running game has come under Kubiak. Baltimore ran for that many yards in a game just once (against Chicago) all last year, but a productive running game makes Flacco that much more efficient when he goes to the air. The Cleveland rush defense has been a mess this season, but it was nice to see the Ravens commit to the run despite starter Bernard Pierce being out and they learned Lorenzo Taliaferro can be a major contributor sooner rather than later.

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Ravens stock watching entering Week 4

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Ravens stock watching entering Week 4

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

Every week, we’ll take a look at which Ravens players’ stock is rising and falling …

STOCK RISING

Lorenzo Taliaferro
Skinny: Even if I could have run through a couple of the huge running lanes opened by the offensive line, the rookie took advantage of the Bernard Pierce injury by rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries against Cleveland. Taliaferro drew some comparisons to Jamal Lewis on his 31-yard run in which he showed impressive downhill speed. The starting job might not be his just yet, but there’s little debate that the fourth-round pick is firmly in the backfield equation now and the heat will be on Pierce to play at a high level. 

Kyle Juszczyk
Skinny: Just a week after appearing in the “falling” category, the second-year fullback’s strong performance against the Browns that included a 9-yard touchdown catch lands him back in the good graces of the coaching staff. The season-ending injury to Dennis Pitta will likely create more opportunities for Juszczyk to catch passes in the flat as the Ravens will need someone to complement veteran tight end Owen Daniels. His Lebron James chalk throw celebration earned him style points, but Week 3 was a step in the right direction for Juszczyk. 

Rick Wagner
Skinny: The second-year right tackle continues to be consistently solid in his first year as a starter and earned the third-highest grade among offensive players for Week 3, according to Pro Football Focus. Wagner and Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda were able to open some sizable running lanes for Taliaferro and veteran Justin Forsett against the Browns defense as they did late in the Pittsburgh game. In fact, Wagner has been more consistent than left tackle Eugene Monroe, who has struggled in two of the first three weeks of the 2014 season. 

C.J. Mosley
Skinny: Aside from two unnecessary roughness penalties in the first three weeks, it’s easy to see why the Ravens were excited to draft Mosley with the 17th overall pick of May’s draft. The Alabama product finished with six tackles (one for a loss) and registered a hit on Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer on Sunday. Mosley would be the first to tell you that he’s left some plays out on the field, but his aggressiveness and instincts put him on track to be an impact player as he gains experience and more strength over the next year or two. 

STOCK FALLING

Matt Elam
Skinny: Elam is only three games into his second year, but we’re still waiting to see what the Ravens saw in him as a first-round pick as he misses too many tackles for a player with a reputation for physicality and has been exposed in pass coverage too often. Sunday was probably the worst game of his career as a long reception to Taylor Gabriel was made even worse when Elam was focused on the miscommunication in the secondary instead of bothering to touch the receiver who was on the ground. In fairness, Elam was out of position at free safety last year and has had to play the nickel this year, but he hasn’t impressed.

Jacoby Jones
Skinny: Head coach John Harbaugh opined that the veteran wide receiver is pressing through the first three weeks of the season, but Jones has been a non-factor with only three catches for 20 yards and has dropped several passes, including one that could have gone for a touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter Sunday. Jones is a dynamic return specialist and there’s no reason not to put him on the field to run a few verticals per game, but his ability as a receiver is very limited beyond that. With Pitta out for the season, the Ravens need more production from the No. 3 receiver spot, whether it’s Jones or someone else.

Lardarius Webb
Skinny: Sunday was supposed to be a good day for the secondary with the long-awaited return of the veteran cornerback, but Webb played only four defensive snaps and looked like he was in quicksand trying to cover Andrew Hawkins on an out route. You hope it was just rust and not evidence of a lack of flexibility from the back injury, but Week 3 only raised concerns about Webb, who had practiced fully for the last three weeks leading into his season debut. It’s painfully clear that the Ravens need help in the secondary and what we saw from Webb against the Browns wasn’t close to being the tonic. 

Bernard Pierce
Skinny: Sunday was the first game Pierce had missed in his three-year career, but a thigh injury is just the latest ailment to hobble the starting running back, which led to Taliaferro making an emphatic statement in Cleveland. Pierce’s Week 2 stats (96 yards on 22 carries) were a bit deceiving as he was indecisive through three quarters before finally finding room against a tired Pittsburgh front. It’s too early to suggest Taliaferro has supplanted Pierce as the starting running back, but the 2012 third-round pick will need to play at a high level and stay healthy to hold off the rookie.

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Bisciotti draws clear line in sand responding to ESPN report

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Bisciotti draws clear line in sand responding to ESPN report

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Luke Jones

If you listened to Steve Bisciotti’s words and read the Ravens’ lengthy response to the ESPN report accusing the organization of “purposeful misdirection” in its handling of the Ray Rice investigation, you were unlikely to feel dramatically different than you had entering Monday afternoon.

Short of documented proof of the organization securing a copy of the inside-elevator tape before the morning of Sept. 8, the saga has morphed into a case of “he said, she said” among the Ravens, the NFL, and Rice’s camp with the 100-percent truth somewhere in that abyss. Deciphering semantics, truths, half-truths, and outright lies from all involved parties hasn’t been easy for anyone trying to consume the story over the last seven months.

Most are going to believe what they want to believe by now.

But Bisciotti drew a clear line in the sand against the reporting of ESPN’s Don Van Natta and Kevin Van Valkenburg, emphatically claiming the story came from Rice’s attorney, agent, and friends invested in his appeal for NFL reinstatement. It’s a bold statement that will only encourage more digging from the media outlet — not to mention others — and could prove to be a fatal strategy should more be uncovered.

Taking nothing away from the journalistic work, the piece does present — at least in part — Rice’s side of the story, even with sources the reporters say are outside his camp. And, of course, Rice’s perspective needed to be presented, just like the Ravens and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have offered their accounts.

Unlike a fumbling and robotic Goodell speaking in New York last Friday, Bisciotti spoke with conviction — whether you believe him or not — and appeared human, at times charming and forthcoming when encouraging further questioning toward the end of his 48-minute press conference but also defiant and even dismissive of questions already answered in a release handed out to media just moments before the session began. The decision to issue the written response so close to the start of the press conference reeked of attempting to throw the media off-track and wasn’t a good look from a public relations standpoint.

The truth is Monday’s open forum with Bisciotti should have taken place two weeks ago in lieu of a few interviews with individual outlets in the days following Rice’s release. A press conference with the team’s owner should have happened long before the damning allegations were presented in the ESPN report last Friday.

“I’m sorry that we didn’t push harder to get that tape,” said Bisciotti, reiterating the same position he gave two weeks ago. “It seems to me, in hindsight, that we certainly had the leverage to say to Ray and his lawyer that we can’t have him play on our team until we see that last bit of evidence. That’s what we’re dealing with now.”

Whether subscribing fully to ESPN’s report of an egregious coverup or believing the Ravens’ account that essentially highlights the difference in perception between an open hand and a punch — should that have mattered anyway? — and makes the organization look incompetent at best, my mind keeps coming back to what Bisciotti said to The Sun the week of Rice’s release:

We kind of heard what we wanted to hear and imagined what we wanted to imagine because we loved Ray.

Even if the Ravens can successfully dispute the severity of some of the accusations presented in ESPN’s report, nothing said by Bisciotti, team president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, or head coach John Harbaugh has adequately refuted a position of — at best — willful ignorance throughout the ordeal. Bisciotti’s claim that he “wasn’t concerned or interested enough” to secure the video isn’t believable unless the Ravens truly wanted to remain in the dark beyond what was already written in the police report, what was seen in the first video released by TMZ, and what the accounts provided by Rice and head of security Darren Sanders said.

It was only after the second video came to light that the organization changed its tune. But Bisciotti’s words on Monday seemed to confirm it was all about public fallout and had little to do with their own horror of what happened in the elevator being worse than they claimed to have originally thought.

“If we had gotten the tape early on in the spring, and Roger had seen it, then I think that it would have been a precedent-setting, multi-game, maybe eight-game suspension, or maybe indefinite,” Bisciotti said. “I think it would have been something significant, and then that would have been taken out of our hands as a team, and we would have waited for Ray’s reinstatement, and maybe we wouldn’t have had to make a decision right then and there to cut him if he had been suspended indefinitely.

“But I believe that he would have a better chance of being forgiven [after] eight games or a whole year after that tape came out. If that tape came out in March or April, I don’t think people would have been aghast. I think that it would have raised the ire of the people, and I think Roger would have responded accordingly. And I think it would have been a one-time shot, and I think it would have been significant, but Ray would have been in the same position of, ‘Do we try and appeal it?’”

In the big picture, what’s done is done and while there are more chapters to come in this story, there’s no disputing the extensive — perhaps, irreparable — damage that the Ravens have done to their own reputation. Bisciotti says no one in the organization will lose their job in the fallout, but that’s only if there is no concrete evidence that implicates him or any other members of the Ravens’ brass in an alleged coverup.

The owner’s strong stance Monday put his organization further under the microscope for scrutiny and investigation than the Ravens had already been.

Telling the truth or not is one thing, but Bisciotti and the Ravens need to be positive a smoking gun isn’t waiting to be uncovered to bring them down.

“If all I can do is try and correct our wrongs and do what we think is right, that decision to cut Ray was that,” Bisciotti said. “I can’t please those people that think we didn’t do enough.”

For the sake of the Ravens, Bisciotti better know he did the right thing on Monday and didn’t simply escalate a battle that he ultimately won’t win.

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Pitta out for 2014 season after undergoing hip surgery in Cleveland

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Pitta out for 2014 season after undergoing hip surgery in Cleveland

Posted on 22 September 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens’ worst fear became reality Monday as tight end Dennis Pitta underwent surgery on his dislocated right hip and will miss the remainder of the season.

Head coach John Harbaugh announced the news a day after Pitta injured his hip for the second time in 14 months, leaving many to ponder his future after he was injured while trying to turn up field while catching a simple short pass in the second quarter of the Ravens’ 23-21 win over the Browns. Pitta remained hospitalized in a Cleveland hospital overnight before undergoing the surgical procedure Monday afternoon.

“We do not have the results of the surgery, specifically, yet,” Harbaugh said. “We do know that he’s going to be done for the season.”

Pitta’s absence now leaves the Ravens to rely more heavily on veteran Owen Daniels, rookie Crockett Gillmore, and second-year fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who has the versatility to line up at the tight end position and caught three passes for 54 yards on Sunday. Harbaugh acknowledged that the organization will be looking to add another tight end, but it remains unclear whether the Ravens will promote Phillip Supernaw from the practice squad.

The disappointing news for Pitta comes so soon after a rigorous four-month rehab last year that allowed him to return for the final four games of the regular season after initially injuring his hip on July 27, 2013. Some medical experts have offered opinions that Pitta’s career could be over after suffering a second traumatic injury to the same hip.

For now, the Ravens will await the initial results and hope there wasn’t significant damage to the hip area beyond the dislocation and a likely fracture. The first injury did not damage any ligaments or cartilage, which helped facilitate a quicker return, but medical experts will surely look at the structure of his hip with even more scrutiny this time.

“I don’t know the ramifications of that long term,” Harbaugh said. “The specialists will probably give us some information on that, so I really don’t know. I’m going to be really hopeful for Dennis’ return, and I’m sure we’ll learn about that in the coming weeks.”

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