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Ravens notebook: Harbaugh says Pitta concussion symptoms have subsided, should be fine

Tight end Dennis Pitta's concussion symptoms subsided during the Ravens' 13-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to coach John Harbaugh.

Pitta suffered a head injury when he was tackled by free safety Ryan Clark and linebacker Lawrence Timmons after catching a short pass during the firstquarter and didn't return after heading to the locker room to be examined.

With Pitta feeling better Monday, it suggests that he'll likely play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers as long as he passes a pending baseline neurological test.

"By the end of the game, during the game, he was fine," Harbaugh said. "At the end, he showed no symptoms. He's feeling really good, so he should be fine. He will have to go through the protocol that we put our guys through. It's a very strict protocol."

Meanwhile, nose guard Terrence Cody was held out due to an elbow injury. The Ravens were surprised that the swelling didn't go down prior to kickoff.

"He tweaked his elbow in practice," Harbaugh said. "We didn't think it was going to be an issue, we thought it would be fine. The swelling just never came out of it. Throughout pregame, we thought he was going to be there.

"I got the bad news from [defensive line coach] Clarence Brooks that he just couldn't lock out like he needed to hold off the linemen. That's why he didn't go."

The Ravens' other injuries are regarded as minor, including: cornerback Chris Johnson (strained hamstring), tight end Ed Dickson (ankle) and safety James Ihedigbo (sprained neck).

Harbaugh indicated that defensive end Pernell McPhee, who has missed the past three games with right knee and thigh injuries, has an improved chance of playing this week.

"There was no setback and he's on schedule, very soon," Harbaugh said. "This week is a possibility. Last week, in all fairness, wasn't a possibility."

McPhee boldly proclaimed last week that he was 100 percent recovered from his injuries even though he wound up being listed as doubtful on the injury report.

"I didn't say he was 100 percent, so you're going to have to ask him about that," Harbaugh said.  "He's a good guy, and he's working hard."

Quiet game for T. Smith

One year after catching a game-winning touchdown in Pittsburgh, wide receiver Torrey Smith was limited to one inconsequential catch for seven yards despite being targeted seven times by quarterback Joe Flacco.

The former University of Maryland standout was shadowed all game by cornerback Ike Taylor. Smith was occasionally double-teamed.

"They were doubling him in the sense that they were doubling both outside guys," Harbaugh said. "So, they were playing a two-deep, man-under type of a scheme where they were doubling the outside receiver on both sides, which was Torrey and Anquan [Boldin] usually.

"There were also times when they were open, and maybe Joe felt a little something pushing out underneath it, and he threw it away or a little high and wide where he thought the only guy who would have a chance for it would be the receiver, and it just kind of ended up sailing a little bit too far out there."

Learning on the fly

Rookie offensive tackle Kelechi Osemele had a learning experience as he squared off for the first time with Steelers star outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.

Although Woodley had one sack, five tackles and two quarterback hits primarily rushing against Osemele while Harrison recorded eight tackles and a sack against left tackle Michael Oher, Osemele held up solidly overall.

"I thought both the tackles played really well," Harbaugh said. "You are talking about two of the premier pass rushers in football, and they did a good job of keeping those guys at bay."

Drafted in the second round, Osemele has started every game this season.

"I feel like I had a pretty good game," Osemele said. "Those are some great outside linebackers. It wasn't perfect, but I'll get better every time I play those guys. When you play talent like that you have no choice but to get better."

Left offensive guard Jah Reid allowed Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel to blast Flacco on the Ravens' first offensive play. It was Reid's first NFL start.

"The Keisel play was probably the low point of the game for Jah," Harbaugh said. "It was the first play, so it got better after that. Brett Keisel is a really good player."

Progress for Ngata

Rested a week ago due to a sprained right knee and an injured shoulder and held without a tackle two games ago, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata rebounded from his ailments and recorded five tackles and a sack Sunday.

Ngata appeared to have some issues with his injuries, but didn't look hurt during the fourth quarter on his clutch sack of Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich. He dropped Leftwich for a 10-yard loss on 3rd-and-9 in the fourth quarter.

"Yeah, I felt good, stronger," Ngata said. "A lot better, definitely. I just had to get a feel, kind of testing out my shoulder each play and I got more comfortable."

Tucker rebounds from miss

During a tense win at Heinz Field, rookie kicker Justin Tucker didn't allow a rare missed field goal to disrupt his form on his next kick.

After missing wide right on a 41-yard field-goal attempt, Tucker delivered a 39-yard score that boosted the Ravens' lead to 13-7. Tucker has made 19 of 21 attempts.

"That felt pretty dang good to make the next kick," Tucker said. "I've always said the most important kick is the one after a miss, and that's how you're judged in this league is how you respond."

Accountable for touchdown

Sitting at his locker late Sunday night, Ravens Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs broke into a warbling rendition of "Renegade," the Styx song that's become the Pittsburgh Steelers' unofficial theme song.

Following a narrow 13-10 victory over the Steelers, Suggs could finally relax and smile for a moment.

Leftwich sprinted away from Suggs, who's clearly heavier than his listed 260 pounds.

Rambling up the sideline, Leftwich then ran through an arm tackle try by strong safety Bernard Pollard for a 31-yard touchdown run that stands as the longest of his career.

Suggs acknowledged the Ravens had underestimated Leftwich's speed.

"The thing is we said he was a statue," Suggs said. "We said he wasn't going to move. He proved all of us wrong. He did move. He was doing it pretty good. Fast, too.

"I thought we were going to get him down. I thought Bernard was going to be able to hit him and I would go for the strip, but it didn't pan out. It is what it is."

It was an embarrassing play that the Ravens recovered from after allowing the Steelers to take an early 7-0 lead. Leftwich brushed through Pollard and kept on going into the end zone.

"I take full blame for the touchdown," Pollard said. "We've got to stay on alert. When the quarterback takes off, we got to hit him. It sucks, man. You never want to let a quarterback do that to you. I got to take full responsibility." 

End zone

If free safety Ed Reed's appeal of a one-game suspension is unsuccessful, Ihedigbo would step in as his replacement against the San Diego Chargers. Against the Steelers, Reed's backup delivered a punishing hit on his sack of Leftwich. "A window opened up, and I went for the kill," Ihedigbo said. "That's what I'm here for." Should Reed's punishment be upheld, Harbaugh has confidence in Ihedigbo. "James played really well, he was a physical force out there," he said. "We said something to him after the game and he said, 'That's what you brought me here for.' He's got a lot of pride, and he fits right in." ... Due to the Thanksgiving holiday and traveling to the West Coast on Friday, Harbaugh is tweaking the practice schedule to account for the time change. Practices will start later on Wednesday and Friday. "There will be a little bit of a time crunch there because we're leaving early, because we'll have a shortened on Thursday with Thanksgiving to give the guys a chance to be with their families," he said. "So, we're going to have to pack a little more work into a little less time and then we're going to have to adjust for the time change."

awilson@baltsun.com

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