By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
1:44 PM EST, December 30, 2013
Finally, in Sunday’s 34-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens were able to use tight end Dennis Pitta as they originally envisioned before training camp kicked off. Pitta, in his fourth game back from hip surgery, played 63 snaps against the Bengals and led the team with eight catches for 63 yards.
Fellow tight end Ed Dickson, meanwhile, played just seven snaps and Dallas Clark was again inactive.
With Pitta sidelined for the first 13 weeks of the season, the Ravens got inconsistent production from the position. Dickson ended up playing 629 offensive snaps, many of them as a blocker. Clark played 369, most of them as a receiver. Pitta played 158 snaps in four games, and on Sunday, he played by far the most.
Billy Bajema got 65 snaps in a few stints with the team.
Heading into the offseason, this position is in flux as none of those players are under contract for 2014. The Ravens will push to re-sign Pitta, but unless they can’t agree to a deal, it seems unlikely that any of the others will return. Dickson and Clark, two guys at opposite ends of their careers, failed to impress with Pitta out.
Here are other observations from Sunday and this season as a whole (note that these numbers don't include special teams snaps):
-- During a season of turmoil for the Ravens offensive line, two players were on the field for every single offensive snap. Center Gino Gradkowski and right guard Marshal Yanda each played 1,137 snaps this season. Right tackle Michael Oher played 1,081 snaps. Left tackle Eugene Monroe played 771 after the Ravens acquired him from the Jacksonville Jaguars in a midseason trade. And left guard A.Q. Shipley played 707 after replacing the injured Kelechi Osemele, who played 423 before undergoing back surgery. Rookie Rick Wagner played 131 snaps, most of them coming as the third offensive lineman in the heavy set. Jah Reid played 22.
-- After all the preseason chatter of how the addition of Elvis Dumervil might affect Courtney Upshaw, it turned out that Upshaw actually got more snaps at strong-side linebacker. Upshaw played 640 snaps, including 44 against the Bengals. Dumervil played 557 snaps, including 31 against the Bengals. Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs played 903 snaps, most among front-seven defenders. Pernell McPhee played 304. And rookie John Simon got four defensive snaps.
-- Running back Ray Rice endured the least productive season of his career, but he still dominated the snaps in the backfield, playing nearly twice as many as backup Bernard Pierce. Rice, who was benched early in Sunday’s loss but still ended up playing 48 snaps, played 704 snaps this season while Pierce played 398 snaps.
-- Fullback Vonta Leach got just four snaps Sunday and finished the season with just 224. Given how little he was used, it would be surprising to see Leach return. Rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk played mostly on special teams and got just four offensive snaps.
-- In his first season as a starter, cornerback Jimmy Smith logged the most snaps at the position, playing 1,040 defensive snaps in his 16 starts. Lardarius Webb, who was coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament, ended up playing 973. Nickel cornerback Corey Graham played 688 and fourth cornerback Chykie Brown played 38. Strong safety James Ihedigbo played 1,073 snaps, most among Ravens defenders. Rookie free safety Matt Elam played 1,012 snaps after replacing Michael Huff, who played just 93 defensive snaps before he was cut.
-- Middle linebacker Daryl Smith played 1,073 defensive snaps, one fewer than Ihedigbo. There was a revolving door at weak-side linebacker, though. Josh Bynes, who began the season as a starter, played 454 defensive snaps. Jameel McClain, who replaced him in the starting lineup, played 369. Rookie Arthur Brown played 207.
-- Torrey Smith rarely took a breather as he led all Ravens wide receivers with 1,099 offensive snaps. Rookie Marlon Brown played 791 snaps, and Jacoby Jones, who missed four games with a knee injury, played 549. Tandon Doss, who didn’t make the team out of training camp, played 298 snaps. Deonte Thompson played 155 snaps, and Brandon Stokley played 115.
-- Nose tackle Haloti Ngata led all defensive linemen with 700 snaps played, including 56 against the Bengals. Defensive end Chris Canty played 564 snaps, and defensive tackle Arthur Jones, who sat out Sunday with a concussion, played 521. Terrence Cody played 235 snaps. DeAngelo Tyson played 149. And Brandon Williams played 91. Marcus Spears played 142 snaps before the Ravens cut him.
-- Despite suffering a sprained knee in Week 15, quarterback Joe Flacco sat out just eight offensive snaps this season -- not counting when he stood near the sideline as Tyrod Taylor ran a two-quarterback offense in Week 12. Flacco played 1,129 snaps, while Taylor played 21, including eight in mop-up duty in Week 16.
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