"It’s who is going to help our team the most and what is going to make our team the strongest," said John Harbaugh when asked about the intangibles he look for when making the decisions on the roster. (Baltimore Sun video)
After sitting out 32 days between practices, tight end Dennis Pitta now has eight days to get up to speed for the Ravens' season opener against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium on Sept. 11. The seventh-year pro acknowledged that he would not have minded a little more time.
"I will need some time," the 31-year-old Pitta said Saturday afternoon. "Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of work in the past two days, and we have all next week. That will be a good amount of time to get what we need to get accomplished and be ready for next Sunday."
The 6-foot-4, 238-pound Pitta took a step toward that goal by taking part in his first practice since breaking a finger on his right hand in a scuffle with rookie linebacker Kamalei Correa. Although he had a red, noncontact jersey tucked into the rear waistband of his shorts, Pitta did not appear to use it and was not wearing anything to protect his finger.
Pitta, the organization's fourth-round pick in the 2010 draft, hasn't played in a regular-season game since Sept. 21, 2014, when he fractured his right hip in the second quarter of the team's eventual 23-21 win at the Cleveland Browns. He has caught 138 career passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns, but has played in just seven games over the past three seasons.
While Pitta said it was difficult to sit out all four preseason games, coach John Harbaugh was pleased to see him return to the practice field.
"It's a good sign," Harbaugh said. "He looked fine today. He's got to get his timing back and work the rust off – if you want to use that term – and get going. He's back today, and he'll be back all next week and [we] expect him to be ready to go."
The season-ending Achilles tendon tear to Benjamin Watson in an exhibition victory over the Detroit Lions on Aug. 27 and suspensions for Darren Waller (four games) and Nick Boyle (10) might have played a role in accelerating Pitta's return. But the tight end said he and the team had always targeted his coming back after Thursday's preseason finale at the New Orleans Saints.
Now Pitta's focus shifts to being available for the season opener against the Bills.
Asked if he will be anxious about playing, he replied, "Oh yeah, I haven't played in a while. You're always anxious before a game, especially a season opener. But mostly, I'm excited, excited to be out there."