Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta became a relative afterthought in the passing game Monday night, a situation triggered by how the Detroit Lions devoted defensive resources to contain him.
Pitta was only targeted four times and caught two passes for 24 yards during an 18-16 win over the Lions where he wasn’t utilized in the red zone. It was one week after Pitta caught a key touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings in his first game back after being activated from the injured reserve-designated to return list.
Now, Pitta is hoping to get more involved Sunday against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium in his third game of the season.
“I think it was just kind of how the flow of the game was; I didn’t get many opportunities on the field,” Pitta said. “It’s part of what we’re doing and taking it slow and not overloading my reps. Part of that game when I was out there, we saw some bracket coverage, things where opportunities are going to be minimal in those situations. We’ll see new things out of New England that they haven’t shown before and we’ll have to kind of work on the fly.”
A major part of Pitta’s adjustment since recuperating from surgery on a fractured, dislocated right hip suffered during training camp is regaining his stamina and timing. That remains a work in progress.
“It’s always tough jumping into the season this late because everybody is in midseason form and I’m trying to play catch-up,” said Pitta, who has eight receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown in two games. “I’m still trying to get my strength back 100 percent in my legs. It’s getting more comfortable and I do feel progress every week.
As Pitta worked his way back from a serious injury, he says he never had discussions of potentially not returning should the Ravens have been eliminated from playoff contention. The Ravens (8-6) have maintained their grip on the sixth and final playoff spot in the AFC heading into this weekend, ranking ahead of the Miami Dolphins (8-6) due to a head-to-head tiebreaker.
“No, we never had that conversation,” said Pitta, who caught five passes for 55 yards and a go-ahead touchdown during the Ravens’ 28-13 AFC championship game victory over the Patriots in January at Gillette Stadium. “You don’t want to plan for not making the playoffs. I don’t think that would have changed anything. I knew I wanted to get back on the field as quick as I could. Feeling as good as I feel right now, nothing would have stopped me from coming back.”