Pitta will remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he recovers from a second surgery on his hip. Harbaugh revealed Tuesday that the best-case scenario is a midseason return for Pitta, who has played just seven games the last two seasons after dislocating the same hip twice.
"There's no urgency at this time," Harbaugh said via ESPN.com. "We'll be talking about a midseason type of thing if he did it. We just have to see where it goes."
Crockett Gillmore is currently atop of the Ravens' depth chart at tight end, with second-round rookie Maxx Williams looking like a solid No. 2 so far. Fifth-round pick Nick Boyle will also be in the mix for playing time. As we said about Gillmore, he's improving as a pass-catcher but is more of a blocker while Williams could be the team's long-term solution at the position.
The Ravens placed tight end Dennis Pitta and free safety Terrence Brooks on the physically unable to perform list, an unsurprising development considering the severity and timing of their respective injuries.
Pitta has rehabilitated his surgically repaired right hip after fracturing and dislocating it for a second time last September. However, it remains unclear if he'll be medically cleared to play again. Pitta is likely to begin the regular season on the reserve list and would be required under NFL rules to miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
With Pitta out, Crocket Gillmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps as the team's starter, and Gillmore (a former third-round pick) reportedly has the edge on the rookie Williams.
Ravens TE Dennis Pitta is likely to begin training camp and the regular season on the physically unable to perform list, according to NFL sources. If Pitta began the season on the reserve list, he would be required to miss at least the first six games of the season.
Pitta hasn't been medically to practice since his second serious hip injury in as many years. He has rehabilitated the hip to the point where he's able to do some route running and individual drills, but wasn't allowed to fully participate during the Ravens' offseason practices.
Crockett Gilmore and Maxx Williams are vying for snaps at tight end, a position that was heavily involved in Marc Trestman's offense during his days in Chicago.
Ryan Mink of the Ravens' official website believes that TE Crockett Gillmore has a good chance to break out: Gillmore showed strong hands last year and they have only gotten better. He struggled with drops last training camp. So far this summer, he’s hardly let a ball touch the ground. He’s had another year in the offensive system, so he won’t be thinking as much on the field. Plus, Gillmore is massive. He was a big guy last year, but added 15 pounds of muscle in the offseason. He’s still got the ability to stretch the field, which he showed by catching numerous jump balls in Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and minicamp. Flacco seemed to develop a real comfort with Gillmore during the practices.
Gillmore is more of a blocker than a receiver but as the article notes, Gillmore has improved in that facet of the game. There is opportunity at the position with Dennis Pitta still sidelined and Owen Daniels in Denver, but the team drafted Maxx Williams as the long-term answer, so it's not clear how big of a receiving role Gillmore will have in 2015. Martellus Bennett shined under then-HC Marc Trestman in Chicago, so there is some upside for whoever wins the starting job in Baltimore. Fantasy-wise, rookie tight ends are notoriously disappointing, so this may be a muddled situation this season.
There will some ambiguity at tight end because it’s too early to know if Dennis Pitta will play or if rookie Maxx Williams will be ready to take on a big role. However, second-year player Crockett Gillmore remains the likely candidate to start because he’s the closest thing that the Ravens have to a two-way tight end after he spent the offseason working on his quickness and receiving skills.
Since 1998, 47 tight ends have been drafted in the first two rounds, and a grand total of one (Jeremy Shockey) scored at a TE1-type rate when compared to the position’s production in 2014. Six more scored at a rate good enough to crack the top 18, so the odds are against Williams making much of a fantasy impact in 2015. However, there are a couple of things working in his favor. He has a great opportunity for snaps if Pitta is unable to play (and be effective) this season, and he’s playing in a very pass-friendly offense (under OC Marc Trestman) for a team that is looking for playmakers at receiver.
Pitta hasn't been medically cleared by doctors and his career is in doubt as he tries to return from his second fractured and dislocated right hip within the past two years.
We're not counting on Pitta's return but it's a situation to monitor. His potential return would impact the amount of playing time rookie Maxx Williams will get in 2015.
“It’s just a whole different scheme,” Williams said. “In Minnesota, we were going to run power all day and just run play action. That’s all we did unless we had a drop-back. For me, it’s really just kind of learning a brand-new playbook, so it is starting off fresh where I don’t really have any old habits."
Rookie tight ends are notoriously disappointing, but if Dennis Pitta is out, Williams will have a tremendous opportunity to produce in Marc Trestman's offense. Crockett Gilmore is also in the mix.
If Pitta starts the season on PUP, he won't be eligible to play in the first six games. It's not often that rookie tight ends are fantasy relevant. It's a tough position to learn and since it's a "onesie" position in most fantasy leagues, there isn't a ton of demand. Maxx Williams has a chance to be a factor at the position given the opportunity he has for playing time in Marc Trestman's pass-happy offense. Under Trestman, Martellus Bennett finished as the #10 and #5 TE in both PPR and standard formats in the last two seasons. If Williams has a great summer, he may be TE2-worthy in fantasy drafts.
It’s still too early to know exactly when TE Dennis Pitta will be back on Sundays, but he’s back alongside his teammates at practice and feeling pretty good. Those ruling him out for 2015 should take pause.
Asked point blank whether he’ll play this season, Pitta rolled his eyes and chuckled.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “I feel good. But obviously it’s a process. I have an idea in mind of where I’d like to be in a couple months, but at the same time you don’t know. I know what it felt like to do this one time. I’ve never known what it felt like to do it twice.”
In terms of the injury being healed, Pitta is 100 percent. In terms of him being back in football shape, he’s not there yet. He can run and cut, he said. He’s running routes and catching passes.
“I’m certainly encouraged by what I’m able to do on the field,” he said. “Being out there, running routes, catching the football, that’s what I love to do. So it’s fun to be able to do that a little bit.”
We're going to wait and see how Pitta's offseason progresses before counting him in for 2015. His potential recovery will have a big impact on Maxx Williams' playing time and upside in Marc Trestman's pass-happy offense.
“We felt like the tight end was someone we really wanted,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “This offense we’ll be running is very tight end friendly.”
The Ravens lost Owen Daniels to free agency and Dennis Pitta is very iffy for the season as he recovers from a bad hip injury, so Williams is a need pick. If his offseason goes well, he could start immediately in new OC Marc Trestman’s pass-happy offense. This means he could be fantasy relevant as a rookie, a rarity for a rookie tight end.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 11:33am
It certainly looks like TE Dennis Pitta wants to at least keep the door open for a possible return. In a video posted to the Ravens' website from Monday’s kickoff to the offseason workout program, Pitta is seen working out alongside his teammates in the weight room.
Pitta’s presence may keep the door ajar, but it probably doesn’t change the Ravens’ feelings about needing to add a tight end in the draft. With Owen Daniels gone, the team’s thin on players they know will be there in September.
Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said he spoke with trainers about Dennis Pitta’s status this week, and their main message was that an answer on his availability won’t come until this summer. The Ravens likely won’t wait until they get that definitive answer to spur into action.
“Are we going to try to add some tight ends to this offense? Yes,” General Manager Ozzie Newsome said during Tuesday’s press conference.
Newsome’s comment made it clear that the Ravens will look outside the building to bring in new pieces over the next few months. This year’s draft is considered thin at the position, but the Ravens will keep a close eye on prospects who could help the offense this fall.
Dennis Pitta’s status came up again with Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Wednesday, but there’s no more clarity about the situation. Harbaugh said there’s “really nothing definitive” from doctors at this point regarding Pitta’s ability to return to the field and that he only wants Pitta to be able to do what’s best for Pitta.
“His hip is fully recovered in the sense that the blood flow is there and there’s no lingering problem from either one of the injuries,” Harbaugh said, via the Baltimore Sun. “So, he’s in great position to live a great life, which is the main thing. Whether it goes to the next step and he wants or is able to play football, that will be up to them. I’m like you. I’m waiting to hear.”
The Ravens need to deal with free agent Owen Daniels and make plans for the position that don’t include Pitta, but Pitta’s guaranteed $4 million contract means there’s no specific time pressure looming over the ultimate decision about his future.
It sounds as if the team are in 'wait-and-see' mode. For now, add the Ravens to the list of teams looking to shore up the tight end position.
Pitta, who has suffered serious hip injuries in each of the past two seasons, saw a couple of specialists last week, and Harbaugh said he couldn't give any updates right now.
"I did get kind of an overview of that report from our trainer that I wouldn’t really want to share until Dennis has had a chance to kind of consider all of the ramifications of it," Harbaugh said. "But I think we’ll have something on that in a couple of weeks, kind of on Dennis’ time frame. We’ll see where that goes.”
Harbaugh indicated in early December that he expects Pitta to make a full recovery, and he said at the end of the season that he was "cautiously optimistic" about his return in 2015.
In a run-heavy offense that stresses safer passes for quarterback Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith was never a strong bet to repeat last year's production. After leading the team in 2013 with 65 catches and 1,128 receiving yards, though, he's on pace for just 453 yards and 32 grabs in 2014.
"You can't get any closer than we've already been," Torrey said of his chemistry with Flacco, per The Baltimore Sun. "I have folks tweeting me how terrible I am, and I could very easily have had three touchdowns and 300 yards the past couple weeks. That's how the ball rolls. I'm not used to it, but we'll get over it soon. We were as close as you can get to touchdowns. We just have to be on the same page and get it done."
Said Torrey: "It'll happen. It has no choice but to happen. The way we've been practicing, it has no choice but to happen. I can't say when. I hope it's Sunday, but it'll happen soon."
With the focus on Steve L Smith's revenge game against the Panthers, it would be a good time for Flacco to connect on one or two deep balls to Torrey Smith. We're not counting on it, but he's a better player than he's showed in the first three weeks and Dennis Pitta's absence may send a few extra targets his way.
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