Lessons Learned from Baltimore Ravens' Training Camp This Week
The Baltimore Ravens' training camp continued this week and though it's still early, there are compelling storylines already emerging.
From positional battles to injuries and everything in between, this has been an eventful week in Baltimore. Here are the three biggest things we've learned this week out of Ravens' training camp.
Tight End Dennis Pitta Breaks Hand
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The most significant injury suffered by a Raven this week was the broken hand suffered by tight end Dennis Pitta, which required surgery and will keep him sidelined until the Week 1 opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Pitta, who caught 40 passes for 405 yards and three scores last year, is integral to the Ravens' passing game and their evolution into fielding more two-tight end sets.
However, he will have to wait until the regular season starts to get back on the field, and he may have to be eased in considering the practice and preseason time he's set to miss.
Though fellow starter Ed Dickson has seen his reps increase in Pitta's absence, he has been joined on the first-team offense by veteran Davon Drew.
Drew's career in Baltimore has been solely with the practice squad, but this extra time with the starters will help him in his quest to earn himself a spot on the active roster. At this point, Drew has work to do, but his blocking has already been impressive.
For depth, the Ravens signed free agent tight end Billy Bajema. Bajema, who has caught 38 passes for 398 yards and two scores in his career, is primarily a blocking tight end and will be competing directly with Drew for the third tight end spot.
Haloti Ngata, Bryant McKinnie Return
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Nose tackle Haloti Ngata, who tweaked his hamstring when running the conditioning test at the start of camp, and left tackle Bryant McKinnie, who has been off the field with a back problem, both passed the conditioning test on Friday and can return to practice.
In fact, McKinnie was back on the field after passing the test, but as of this writing there was no sign of Ngata practicing. As a result of McKinnie's return, the Ravens cut rookie offensive lineman Paul Madsen.
Injuries have been stacking up in training camp for the Ravens thus far—more so than any other team in the AFC North as of now—so having McKinnie back at left tackle and Ngata eventually on the field with the defensive line will be a major help.
Linebacker Battle Update
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Rookie linebacker Courtney Upshaw missed practices this week with a shoulder injury, meaning that Sergio Kindle got extra time with the first-team linebackers.
According to Bleacher Report's Mike Fast, Kindle was lined up as the Will backer and looked speedy and as though he had a strong grasp of the playbook—all good signs for Kindle's chances to get real playing time once the regular season begins.
Paul Kruger remained in the spot usually reserved for Terrell Suggs and is likely to stick there for as long as Suggs is out this season.
Pernell McPhee, the defensive end thought to take the regular season snaps Suggs used to take, missed the first five days of camp as he recovered from a minor knee scope procedure, but he returned to the practice field a full-go on Wednesday.
Upshaw's absence opens the door for Kindle to snag the remaining linebacker position up for grabs. Depending on how much time he misses, he could be forced to share time with Kindle, at least at the start of the regular season.
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