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.
If they can bring back Justin Forsett, the Ravens are expected to pair him with a young running back. They met with Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), David Johnson (Northern Iowa) and Duke Johnson (Miami) at the NFL scouting combine.
"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," GM Ozzie Newsome said. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.
"Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin.”
Under OC Marc Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. Depending on his asking price, re-signing the 29-year-old Forsett isn't a no-brainer for the Ravens, though he's not likely to garner a huge contract in free agency. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he stays in Baltimore. If the Ravens draft a running back early, it would certainly damper Forsett's outlook in 2015.
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.
By season's end, Anderson was a Pro Bowler. But Anderson started the final eight games with John Fox as head coach. Gary Kubiak is the Broncos' coach now.
"He's got to go earn that," Kubiak said. "When he walked off the field last year he was playing that way. He's a young player. I told him that when I talked to him. I said, "C.J. when you come back for the offseason you need to handle yourself like you're the starter. ... I think he's ready to do that."
This is a common motivational tactic that coaches use with young, less-established players, but Anderson should be the team's RB1 in 2015 provided he doesn't report to OTAs out of shape. He began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson, he should thrive under new Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. Provided QB Peyton Manning returns for another season, Anderson’s production should continue.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:31am
The Falcons need to upgrade in the backfield and that's likely to start with the release of veteran Steven Jackson. New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan brings with him an emphasis on the outside zone-blocking scheme and one-cut-and-go mentality for the running backs. The Falcons will benefit from having younger legs in such a scheme. Don't discount second-year player Devonta Freeman, who is eager to take the next step and could thrive in the system. But the Falcons need more bodies, and Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith are headed to free agency. Keep an eye on Justin Forsett, who also is bound for free agency. Forsett thrived in the zone-blocking scheme the past season en route to a career-high 1,266 rushing yards. And Forsett is represented by the same agent who represents Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 10:29am
Only one of the Ravens' top three running backs from last year is guaranteed to return, and that's rookie fourth-round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro. The Ravens would like to re-sign leading rusher Justin Forsett, but he could receive a better offer elsewhere after becoming the NFL's fifth-leading rusher in 2014. The status for Bernard Pierce is just as uncertain after he recorded his second straight disappointing season. The Ravens will want to upgrade their depth if they're able to do so, and Pierce may not make the regular-season roster. This is a situation where the Ravens are going to be careful with how much they invest in this position because they're carrying $9.5 million in dead cap space after releasing Ray Rice last year. Their game plan could be to sign a moderately priced veteran in free agency and add another runner in the draft.
With the Broncos' return to zone blocking in 2015 under Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison, C.J. Anderson's rampage through opposing defenses could be just the beginning. Kubiak and Dennison's penchant for extracting career seasons from running backs continued last year in Baltimore, when they helped craft an offense that turned Justin Forsett loose.
"I just can't wait to get to work, to be honest," Anderson said.
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under new Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. Provided QB Peyton Manning returns for another season, Anderson’s production should continue.
Marc Trestman’s leadership abilities have come under fire in the wake of his two-year stint in Chicago, something that tight end Martellus Bennett didn’t do much to argue against in an appearance on NFL Network on Friday. Bennett did say that he thinks a move to the offensive coordinator role with the Ravens will work out well for coach and team.
“Trestman, I think, first off, the issue that he had, probably, was managing us all, all the different personalities,” Bennett said. “There’s a lot of big personalities. And I think, for a first-time head coach in the NFL, dealing with all the personalities that you have, I think that’s hard when you got guys like me, you know, [Brandon] Marshall … Lance Briggs on defense, (Charles) Tillman … Calling plays, he was excellent. I think he’s going to be an excellent coordinator for the Ravens. Strategically, he was great. But on the field, guys just weren’t executing.”
We generally agree, though Trestman takes a very pass-heavy approach, and that will impact the strong running game that Gary Kubiak built in 2014.
The first order of business will be to re-sign Forsett, who should see his PPR upside increase due to Trestman's tendency to use his running backs in the passing game. Under Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. Depending on his asking price, re-signing the 29-year-old Forsett isn't a no-brainer for the Ravens, though he's not likely to garner a huge contract in free agency. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he stays in Baltimore.
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.
The Buffalo Bills are putting the finishing touches on a five-year deal that will make Rex Ryan their next head coach, sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
Ryan and the Bills are expected to hire 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman to the same position in Buffalo, sources told ESPN. Ryan and Roman previously worked together as assistant coaches with the Ravens.
The Bills also have said they would like to keep Jim Schwartz as defensive coordinator and pair him with the best head coach possible. Ryan already has spoken to Schwartz about staying as Buffalo's defensive coordinator, a league source told ESPN. But Schwartz runs a 4-3 defensive scheme with a wide-9 front -- used consistently this year only by the Bills and Lions, according to a source -- while Ryan prefers a hybrid 3-4 scheme.
Somewhat surprisingly, Ryan stays in the AFC East. He inherits a great defense and a suspect offense with major QB issues. Roman's offense was somewhat disappointing given the weapons in San Francisco.
Saturday, January 10, 2015, 3:48pm
CB Chris Greenwood
DE Steven Means
DT Terrence Cody
OL Ryan Jensen
DT Casey Walker
TE Phillip Supernaw
DE DeAngelo Tyson
Friday, January 9, 2015, 6:47pm
Ravens TE Owen Daniels (not injury related, probable) took full practice reps again Friday and is probable for Week 19. Daniels should be fine to face New England. He has scored one touchdown in his last nine games.
The Ravens have only allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in the regular season, and they held Jimmy Graham to 47 yards receiving. Do the Ravens have a chance of slowing down Rob Gronkowski, or do you throw out those numbers because he is on a different level?
Patriots beat writer Mike Reiss: They can definitely slow Gronkowski, but it will come at a cost. One of the most impressive things about Gronkowski’s season to me is how his 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns hardly tell the whole story. It’s plays like touchdown catches by Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen against the Broncos on Nov. 2 that highlight his true value because there were three to four defenders swarming around Gronkowski in the end zone, creating those one-on-one opportunities for Julian Edelman and Shane Vereen. That was pretty commonplace this season with Gronkowski, who is a pure combination tight end in the sense that he can also dominate as a blocker when he wants; it's not just catching the ball. So I’d be surprised if the Ravens can slow Gronkowski consistently with just one player like safety Will Hill. But if they want to devote extra resources to it, they can probably dictate the ball going elsewhere, and the Patriots have shown the ability to capitalize when that happens.
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