Baltimore Ravens: Dennis Pitta
@jamisonhensley: There are no easy fixes. It doesn't help that starting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb are banged up. Once they get healthier, this group will look much better, which isn't a great revelation. The problem is at the third cornerback spot, where Asa Jackson can't tackle and Chykie Brown can't cover. The Ravens are regretting not being able to upgrade at corner this offseason. At safety, anyone who thinks suspended Will Hill is the solution is not being realistic. Hill is an upgrade over Darian Stewart at free safety, but it's not like this is Ed Reed in his prime coming back. As I've written before, the best way to make a secondary look better is by improving the pass rush. The Ravens can't let Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan have time in the pocket over the next few weeks or they're in trouble.
@jamisonhensley What can we do to fix the secondary? Everybody is broken.— Joel Baldwin (@MrBaldwinArt) September 24, 2014
Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen, who have combined for 34 of the team's 75 completions. At 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, Jimmy Smith has the best chance to match up physically with he 6-5 Benjamin. The Ravens typically don't assign a cornerback on one receiver. They usually keep Smith on the right side and the other corner on the left. But the Ravens did have Smith shadow the Steelers' Antonio Brown and had success doing so. In three games this season, Smith has given up nine catches for only 40 yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
Dennis Pitta's hip injury is a career-ending one. It's a tough injury because it's the same right hip that he had surgery on last year. The way he injured it -- going down without any contact -- has to be a concern as well. But there's also the mental aspect to the injury as well. There's a devastation for players who suffer a major injury after months of rehabbing it to get back. Many players don't want to put themselves through the rigors of coming back again. Whether the injury impacts quality of life down the road is another big factor.
@jamisonhensley: The numbers definitely support your opinion. Only eight players last season had more red-zone touchdown catches than Marlon Brown, who pulled in seven as a rookie. His inconsistency in the offseason caused him to slip on the depth chart. He fell behind Jacoby Jones as the No. 3 wide receiver and moved behind tight ends Pitta and Owen Daniels in terms of red-zone snaps. With the loss of Pitta, that should increase opportunities for Brown, especially inside the 20-yard line. I'm not saying he'll match those seven touchdowns from last year. But he has to get more chances in the red zone. So far, Brown has had no passes thrown his way in the red zone through three games. In comparison, Steve Smith has been targeted six times down there.
@jamisonhensley Question, Marlon Brown production. How can the ravens use him? I feel he can be a great Red Zone Target. What do you think?— VICTOR (@Victor_412) September 26, 2014
Brigance, the Ravens' senior adviser to player development, was told he had five years to live when he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. That was seven years ago.
Before bringing Brigance into the cafeteria, coach John Harbaugh told the players about how Brigance kicked his team's butt on special teams and called him "the strongest man in the building."
The players and coaches gave Brigance a standing ovation when he arrived in a wheelchair and sang "Happy Birthday" to him.
"Even though he doesn't stand on his two legs, he stands above all of us," Harbaugh told reporters. "We think he's a great leader and we look to him everyday for strength and encouragement. I think he's the heart and soul of what we're about with the Ravens."
Brigance has become an ambassador for the battle against ALS, a progressive and fatal disease that shuts down nerve cells responsible for movement but doesn't impair the brain or any of the senses.
No long-term prognosis on Pitta: Harbaugh was told that tight end Dennis Pitta 's hip surgery was successful but he didn't have many details. When asked about Pitta's long-term future, Harbaugh said. "I have no information on that." Pitta was placed on injured reserve this week after injuring his hip Sunday in Cleveland. It's the same right hip he had surgery on last year.
Guy fits Ravens defense: The Ravens believed defensive end Lawrence Guy would work well in their defense after seeing the physicality he played for the San Diego Chargers on tape. "We got final confirmation from Double J [former linebacker Jarret Johnson, who now plays for the Chargers]," Harbaugh said. "We texted him and he gave us his stamp of approval. He said, 'He's got Ravens-like qualities.' So, that was all we needed to hear at the end." Guy was signed by the Ravens to provide depth at defensive end because Chris Canty has missed practice all week with a knee injury.
No change in Steve Smith: There has been no difference in wide receiver Steve Smith in practice this week compared to his previous ones, according to Harbaugh. Smith is playing the Carolina Panthers on Sunday after spending 13 seasons with that organization. "He's been the same. He's worked hard. He's been in great spirits," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, the game means something to him. It means a lot to him. It would anybody. But he's in a positive state and he's got good feelings about those guys over there. He wants to do well."
Ravens thinking of Bengals' Still: Harbaugh acknowledged the 4-year-old daughter of Bengals defensive lineman Devon Still at the start of his news conference. Still's daughter had a cancerous tumor removed Thursday. "We wanted to wish her all of our prayers and all of our thoughts," Harbaugh said. "We pray for healing from this disease. She's going to make it."
Supernaw, 24, spent parts of the past two years on the Houston Texans' practice squad, so he is familiar with Gary Kubiak's offense. He did appear in one game in 2013 but didn't record a catch.
Undrafted out of Ouachita Baptist, Supernaw is 6-foot-5, 248 pounds. He didn't have a catch for the Ravens in the preseason.
To take Supernaw's place on the practice squad, the Ravens added tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi. The Browns had cut him from their practice squad earlier this month.
Here's the current practice squad:
- LB Josh Bynes
- TE Emmanuel Ogbuehi
- CB Tramain Jacobs
- G Ryan Jensen
- OT Marcel Jones
- DT Jamie Meder
- DT A.J. Pataiali'i
- LB John Simon
- QB Keith Wenning
- CB Lou Young
You're probably not going to like the Ravens' answer.
"We're going to play our good players," Harbaugh said. "So, who's on the field is going to depend on who are good players are and how the coaches decide to attack."
All of these options can collectively help fill Pitta's void in the red zone and on third downs. Since 2011, Pitta has scored the second-most red-zone touchdowns on the Ravens with eight and has the second-most third-down catches with 46.
Here is what each of the replacements can provide:
TE Owen Daniels: He won't get much separation at this stage of his career, but he knows the offense better than anyone. This is his ninth season with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. He's also gained the trust of Joe Flacco with his toughness over the middle. Much like with Pitta, the biggest concern with Daniels is durability. He's missed 26 games the previous five seasons.
FB Kyle Juszczyk: The 2013 fourth-round pick is the option who has the most breakout potential. Juszczyk led the Ravens in catches in the preseason, and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak compared him to James Casey, who caught 34 passes and three touchdowns with Kubiak two years ago. What will help Juszczyk get on the field is his versatility. He can play every skill position, from fullback to tight end to wide receiver. Plus, he's the answer to a trivia question. Juszczyk is the first Harvard player to catch a touchdown passion the NFL since Pat McInally on Dec. 21, 1980.
WR Marlon Brown: He was primed to regress this season. The Ravens added more weapons in the passing game, and Brown uncharacteristically dropped a lot of passes in offseason workouts and training camp. Still, it's hard to dismiss Brown's 49 catches and seven touchdowns as a rookie last season. His size (6-foot-5) makes him a great target in the red zone. Brown's playing time will increase if the Ravens go from a two-tight end offense to a three-receiver one.
This is the second straight year where the Ravens have to replace Pitta after he had hip surgery. Last year, the Ravens attempted to address his loss by signing Brandon Stokley and Dallas Clark. It's safe to say the Ravens are in a much better position to handle losing Pitta this season.
According to multiple media reports, Pitta has suffered a dislocated hip. He is scheduled to undergo tests Monday to determine if it's fractured.
This is the same right hip that Pitta had surgery on last year.
“It’s not easy. Dennis, he’s a good friend, he’s a good teammate. And he’s a hell of a player," quarterback Joe Flacco said. "No matter who it is, it’s tough to see that happen, especially when it looks like it might be what it is or it might be serious."
Pitta was carted off the field late in the second quarter, when he lost his balance and collapsed to the ground without being hit. He has been one of Flacco's favorite targets in the red zone and on third downs.
"It’s going to be rough over the next day or two, just thinking about it and talking to him and seeing how he feels about it," Flacco said. "I know last time he got hurt, he was pretty optimistic about everything. It will be interesting to talk to him. It’s tough.”
With the expected loss of Pitta, the Ravens will rely more on tight end Owen Daniels, wide receiver Marlon Brown and fullback Kyle Juszczyk as intermediate targets in the passing game.
This time, when the Ravens play at Cleveland on Sunday, emotions could be running even higher. It marks the Ravens' first road game since the video surfaced showing Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer, now his wife, in that elevator.
Even though Rice is gone from the team, there could be more ill will against the Ravens than usual.
"We always anticipate it being hostile," tight end Dennis Pitta said. "And with everything that’s gone around in this organization and in the NFL, we expect that to be ramped up a little bit. So, it won’t come as a surprise if it is.”
This was expected to be Rice's first game back when he was originally suspended for two games. But the Ravens cut Rice and the NFL then suspended him indefinitely on the day the latest video was released.
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs doesn't buy into the notion that the Rice aftermath will create a more raucous road atmosphere for the team.
"We’re not too worried about that," Suggs said. "We know we’re going to be hated. This is the NFL. Every team is going to hate you."
The Ravens have typically fared well in Cleveland, where they hold a 10-5 all-time record. They've won five of their last six games there, but they lost last season when playing on the road was a challenge.
Their road record was 2-6 in 2013 (their worst in coach John Harbaugh's six seasons), with their only wins coming at Miami and Detroit. Half of those road losses were by a field goal.
"Getting that confidence for us has been seeing how we do in a hostile environment," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "Getting a win up there [in Cleveland] would be huge for our team."
The Ravens went 0-3 on the road in the division, and they haven't won away from home in the AFC North since November 2012 at Pittsburgh. There's a feeling in the Ravens' locker room that they need this road win after dropping a home game to the Cincinnati Bengals in the opener.
"All good teams have to be able to go on the road and win, and certainly that’s a challenge we’ll face this week," Pitta said. "Personally, I like playing on the road. I think it’s fun to be able to go into an environment where people don’t really like you."
3: Teams that failed to record a sack in Week 1, which includes the Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons. The Ravens pressured the quarterback at the second-lowest rate in Week 1 (12.8 percent), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
4: Wins by Joe Flacco in his past six games against the Steelers. He has completed 61 percent of his throws over that span, throwing seven touchdowns and one interception.
8: Number of seasons since the Ravens have started 0-2. That's the fourth-longest streak in the NFL. Only the Denver Broncos (14 seasons), New England Patriots (12) and Chicago Bears (10) have longer streaks.
16.5: Number of times Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has sacked Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (in 23 meetings). It's the most sacks of Roethlisberger by any NFL defender. But Suggs has just one sack in his past four games against Pittsburgh.
18.1: Points per game allowed by the Ravens since the start of the 2008 season, which was John Harbaugh's first in Baltimore. Only the Steelers (17.7 points) have allowed fewer points than the Ravens.
23: Joe Flacco's interceptions since winning the Super Bowl. That's the second-most by an NFL quarterback since the start of the 2013 season. Only Eli Manning (29 interceptions) has thrown more.
30: Receptions by Dennis Pitta in his past five games. It's the second-most by a tight end in that span. Carolina's Greg Olsen has the most with 31 receptions.
44: Career 100-yard receiving games for wide receiver Steve Smith. That is 11th in NFL history. He needs one more 100-yard game to tie Isaac Bruce.
129: Consecutive games played by punter Sam Koch, tying him with linebacker Jarret Johnson for the longest streak in Ravens history. Koch will set a team record Thursday night.
Pernell McPhee (4.8): He led the Ravens with three quarterback hurries and constantly harassed backup quarterback Brandon Weeden. No other Ravens player had more than one hurry.
Elvis Dumervil (2.8): The veteran outside linebacker was one of only three Ravens to have a positive rating in pass rush (McPhee and linebacker Daryl Smith were the others). Dumervil finished with one quarterback hit and one hurry.
Brynden Trawick (2.2): He showed his range by racing over to pick off a pass along the sideline and nearly had a second interception. But the backup safety missed a tackle that led to a touchdown.
Josh Bynes (1.6): The surprising part is Bynes finished as the best coverage linebacker. He is known for his run-stopping skills.
Marshal Yanda (1.6): The three-time Pro Bowl guard was the highest-graded pass blocker in Dallas. No hurries or hits allowed on 21 pass plays.
Dominique Franks (1.6): Most remember Franks for not being able to elevate to break up the touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. The veteran cornerback did a solid job the rest of the way in keeping up with receivers, although that was mostly against the Cowboys' second team.
Parker Graham (-3.7): The third-string offensive tackle was the lowest graded run blocker, and he also allowed a sack.
Eugene Monroe (-3.0): The starting left tackle allowed a team-high two quarterback hurries and was flagged for illegal use of hands.
C.J. Mosley (-2.8): After an impressive preseason opener, Mosley was the lowest-graded defensive player for the Ravens. The rookie inside linebacker missed a couple of tackles, had trouble getting off blocks and didn't hold up well in coverage.
Dennis Pitta (-2.1): Known for his pass-catching ability, Pitta was one of two Ravens who had a negative rating in run blocking (Graham was the other).
Nicholas DeMarco (-2.0): The reserve outside linebacker was the lowest graded run defender.
- The play of the day came from an unlikely source. Backup linebacker John Simon made a leaping one-handed interception toward the end of practice. Simon, a 2013 fourth-round pick, is known for his toughness but he often struggles to make plays in space.
- Biggest rule for all rookies: Don't tick off the owner. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro almost did that Monday, when his parents parked in owner Steve Bisciotti's parking spot (which stands out because his initials "SB" are on it). Security had to get Campanaro to point out his parents in the crowd so the vehicle could be removed before Bisciotti arrived for practice.
- With both backup defensive ends out for the season, DeAngelo Tyson took over that spot and made a nice play in his new role. Tyson leapt up and authoritatively knocked down a pass with both hands.
- It was surprising to see wide receiver Torrey Smith fielding punts. Smith brings explosive speed and sure hands to that role. But it's a risk to expose the team's best deep threat to getting injured on special teams. Smith also has virtually no experience in covering punts. He returned one punt in college and has never fielded a punt in three NFL seasons.
- Rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks is getting a lot of reps in practice. He worked at nickel back with the first-team defense and moved back to free safety with the second team.
- The Ravens and 49ers ended their three days of joint practices with a non-contact workout. This came after two days of padded practices for the teams.
- Schedule: The Ravens are off Tuesday. They hold practices Wednesday and Thursday before wrapping up training camp Friday.
- Injury wire: Tight end Dennis Pitta missed his second straight practice with what coach John Harbaugh described as a "little ankle sprain." Pitta did individual drills for about 30 minutes before being told to sit out the rest of practice. ... Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) is scheduled to have season-ending surgery by the end of the week. ... Cornerback Asa Jackson (ankle) was sidelined for his second straight practice. ... Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) missed his 12th straight practice. He last practiced July 25. ... Guard Will Rackley (head), guard Ryan Jensen (ankle) and safety Brynden Trawick (back) also didn't practice. ... Nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list. ... Defensive end Brent Urban (torn ACL) is out for the season.
"I didn’t even think about that. Someone had to remind me of that, which I really didn’t need that reminder," coach John Harbaugh said. "That was unnecessary because let’s just look forward."
A healthy Pitta should lead to more scoring and more extended drives. While you also can't dismiss the loss of wide receiver Anquan Boldin (who was traded before last season) and the effect of that on the offense, Pitta continually came up big for Joe Flacco and the Ravens inside the 20-yard line and on third downs.
Over the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Pitta scored 10 touchdowns in the red zone. No other Ravens player had more than seven during that span.
During those two same seasons, Pitta caught 36 passes on third downs, which tied Ray Rice for the team lead. Only three tight ends -- Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez -- had more third-down receptions than Pitta over that span.
Pitta did play in 2013, returning for the final four games. But he didn't have the same explosion or impact because he wasn't fully recovered.
That's not the case for 2014.
"I’m out here not thinking about it," Pitta said. "It’s not giving me an issue at all; I feel 100 percent. I’m encouraged with where I’m at.”
While Pitta isn't thinking about the injury on the field, he is still "highly motivated" by it heading into this season.
"Not playing very much at all last season, you just have to kind of watch and wish you were out there, watch other people do well and wish you could be out there showcasing your abilities," he said. "So, I’m excited to have that chance this year and certainly motivated to do that.”
Let's continue the countdown ...
No. 9: DENNIS PITTA
Total points: 212. First-place votes: None.
Highest ranking: No. 4. Lowest ranking: Not ranked.
What you need to know: Pitta has become one of Joe Flacco's most trusted targets. In 2012, he set career-highs in catches (61), receiving yards (669) and touchdowns (seven). During the Ravens' Super Bowl run that season, Pitta had touchdowns in three of the team's four playoff games. Pitta played only four games last season after dislocating his hip, but he said he was 100 percent healthy during this year's offseason workouts.
Where Dennis Pitta should be ranked: I had Pitta ranked slightly higher at No. 6. He elevated his game during the 2012 playoffs when he continually made big catches. But his value took a bigger jump last season when you saw how the Ravens struggled on third downs and in the red zone without Pitta.
File this away: Flacco targeted Pitta on 26.4 percent of the routes he ran in 2012 and 2013. That ranks third among tight ends behind Rob Gronkowski (29.2 percent) and Jimmy Graham (28.7 percent).
What the Ravens are saying about Dennis Pitta: “Dennis creates a number of mismatch problems for defenses. He makes it tough on them, and because of that, he really helps out our wide receivers. Opponents have to always pay attention to where he lines up and where his routes take him. Dennis is also a big target with very good hands, and his presence in the red zone is very important to us.” -- general manager Ozzie Newsome
Here is the panel of voters: Morgan Adsit (WBFF-TV), Clifton Brown (Comcast SportsNet Baltimore), Jerry Coleman (105.7 The Fan), Bruce Cunnningham (WBFF-TV), Steve Davis (105.7 The Fan), John Eisenberg (Baltimore Ravens website), Pete Gilbert (WBAL-TV), David Ginsburg (Associated Press), Brent Harris (Comcast SportsNet Baltimore), Brett Hollander (WBAL Radio), Luke Jones (WNST Radio), Joe Platania (the Press Box), Gerry Sandusky (WBAL-TV), Mark Viviano (WJZ-TV), Aaron Wilson (Baltimore Sun), Matt Zenitz (Carroll County Times), Jeff Zrebiec (Baltimore Sun) and Jamison Hensley (ESPN.com).
Recapping the Ravens' countdown so far:
No. 10: Justin Tucker
No. 11: Daryl Smith
No. 12: Steve Smith
No. 13: Ray Rice
No. 14: Eugene Monroe
No. 15: Jacoby Jones
No. 16: Kelechi Osemele
No. 17: Matt Elam
No. 18: Marlon Brown
No. 19: Owen Daniels
No. 20: C.J. Mosley
D'Juan (Pennsylvania): Any word on picking up a veteran CB? Asante Samuel maybe?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Don't see the Ravens picking up a cornerback until the final major cutdown. The available corners, like Samuel, are either aging or coming off injury. I expect the Ravens to stick with the group they have and evaluate them. Then, if there is still a hole, they can sign someone let go after the final preseason game.
PJ (Midlo): Hi Jamison, I hope your summer is going well. Do you see Ravens using tight end Dennis Pitta more and running more? More importantly, can the Ravens really be successful running with their OL and RBs they have?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I do see Dennis Pitta making a big impact. It's no secret that Gary Kubiak's offense is very tight-end friendly. I believe the Ravens' leader in catches this season will either be Pitta or Steve Smith. As far as running the ball, the Ravens are quietly optimistic about their offensive line. Coach John Harbaugh loves the left side of Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele. Jeremy Zuttah is an upgrade at center. There will be more running lanes for Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce this year. It all starts up front.
Dio Rules (Baltimore): With the most talented WR corps in years, do you still see the Ravens running a 2 TE offensive set for most of the 1st and 2nd down situations this year?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): I do because that's the history of Gary Kubiak's offense. For that reason, I wouldn't be surprised if the Ravens carried four tight ends this year. At this point, Owen Daniels (as a No. 2 TE) is more proven that Marlon Brown or Jacoby Jones (the No. 3 WRs).
Mike (Maryland): Do you predict Joe Flacco bouncing back this upcoming season and quieting his critics?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): Flacco will look much better if the Ravens can protect him and run the ball. A lot of Flacco's success has come off play-action. But the Ravens couldn't sell that because they failed to establish a ground game. Based on his history, he should finish with 24-25 TDs and around 10 INTs.
Ryan (Boston): With all this talk of Ryan Jensen switching to offensive tackle, does that mean that James Hurst is struggling? Or could the Ravens possibly keep Wagner, Jensen and Hurst on the 53-man roster? Thanks!
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The reason the Ravens moved Jensen to tackle is to give him a better opportunity to get on the field. He's not going to beat out either guard, Marshal Yanda or Kelechi Osemele. Moving Jensen to tackle doesn't hurt Hurst's chances. But if the Ravens view Jensen as the top backup option at tackle and guard, Hurst could be battling someone like A.Q. Shipley for that final roster spot on the line.
Mary (Colorado): Who do you see as an alternative for Jacoby Jones as a return guy this year?
Jamison Hensley (ESPN): The Ravens had Michael Campanaro, Deonte Thompson and Asa Jackson returning kicks during offseason workouts.
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The Ravens will likely have the opportunity to do so. In the past, teams have wanted to trade up in the draft because of quarterbacks. This year, teams will be looking to move up to the Ravens' No. 17 spot for a wide receiver, especially if LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. is sitting there.
The Philadelphia Eagles (No. 22), New Orleans Saints (No. 27) and San Francisco 49ers (No. 30) are potential trade partners with the Ravens. What could the Ravens expect to get in return? The Eagles would need to give up a third-round pick to move up five spots, and the Saints and 49ers may need to hand over second-rounders.
Still, is trading back worth it for the Ravens? Let's look at the three previous times they moved back in the first round:
The Ravens dropped from No. 8 to No. 26 and received two third-round picks (Nos. 71 and 89) and a fourth-round one (No. 125) from the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Ravens needed to trade one of those third-round picks (No. 89) to move back up to No. 18 to make sure they got quarterback Joe Flacco.
The net result of moving back was linebacker Tavares Gooden (No. 71 pick overall) and cornerback Fabian Washington (acquired for the No. 125 pick from the Oakland Raiders). Gooden started 12 games in three injury-filled seasons with the Ravens, and Washington started three seasons before being benched.
The Ravens moved out of the first round, going from No. 25 overall to No. 43. In return, the Ravens got a third-round pick (No. 70) and a fourth-round one (No. 114) from the Denver Broncos.
Those extra picks became tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, both of whom were fixtures in the offense for the past three seasons. While Dickson is considered a disappointment, Pitta has become one of Flacco's go-to receivers.
But the top picks didn't work out for the Ravens or the Broncos. Denver traded up to get quarterback Tim Tebow, and the Ravens selected linebacker Sergio Kindle in the second round. Kindle was the worst top pick in Ravens' history.
Still, the Ravens likely wouldn't have fared much better if they stayed in the first round. The Ravens were eyeing pass rusher Jerry Hughes, who struggled his first three seasons before recording 10 sacks last season.
Like the Ravens did in 2010, they moved out of the first round. This time, the Ravens fell just six spots from No. 29 to No. 35 and received a fourth-round pick (No. 98) in return.
The Ravens were still able to get linebacker Courtney Upshaw, their possible selection in the first round, even though they dropped into the second round. That fourth-round pick became center Gino Gradkowski, who started last season but is expected to be a backup this year.
The Baltimore Ravens made the wrong decision on medical and character risks in 2010.
This was the draft when the Ravens didn't have tight end Rob Gronkowski on their draft board because of health concerns but made pass-rusher Sergio Kindle their top pick despite numerous red flags.
Like many teams, the Ravens were worried about Gronkowski's long-term health after repeated back issues. Drafted one spot ahead of Kindle, Gronkowski set NFL records for most touchdowns in a season by a tight end (18 in 2011) and most consecutive seasons with at least 10 touchdowns by a tight end (three). Injuries have caught up with Gronkowski but not until he produced two All-Pro seasons.
The Ravens traded out of the first round because the Denver Broncos wanted to to take quarterback Tim Tebow at No. 25, and they chose Kindle at No. 43 despite reports that he had four procedures on his right knee and two car accidents (including a DWI charge). When questioned repeatedly about Kindle's character on draft day, general manager Ozzie Newsome sounded defensive when he said, "I'll tell you what, he's a pretty good player on tape."
Kindle's career was cut short by an accident that occurred three months after the Ravens drafted him. He was ruled out of training camp before he even reported there because he fractured his skull after falling down two flights of stairs. His troubles continued in December 2010, when he was arrested for driving under the influence.
Kindle played two games in 2011 and one in 2012, recording a grand total of one tackle. The Ravens put Kindle on the practice squad in November 2012 and was released him two months later. He tried out for the New York Giants and Chicago Bears last year, but he wasn't signed.
Here's how the Ravens' 2010 draft graded out five years later (based on production and weighted with where they were drafted):
- Sergio Kindle, LB (second round): F. He'll be remembered as the worst top pick of any Ravens draft.
- Terrence Cody, NT (second round): C. Cody was a full-time starter for one season. He is a rotational player who is fighting for a roster spot this year.
- Ed Dickson, TE (third round): C-plus. Dickson looked like he was on his way to being an impact player in 2011, when he caught 54 passes and five touchdowns. Then, drops and lack of confidence led to 46 catches and one touchdown in his last two seasons with the Ravens.
- Dennis Pitta, TE (fourth round): A-minus. He has become Joe Flacco's security blanket on third downs and in the red zone. His production has fallen short of being Pro Bowl caliber.
- David Reed, WR (fifth round): C-minus. He showed flashes of being a playmaker as a kickoff returner. Fumbles and lack of production as a receiver (five catches in three seasons) sealed his fate.
- Arthur Jones, DT (fifth round): A-minus. Jones got better each season and made big plays for the Ravens during their Super Bowl run. He was the Ravens' best defensive lineman last season and priced himself out of the Ravens' range in free agency.
- Ramon Harewood, OT (sixth round): D. His first two seasons ended on injured reserve. Harewood started the first five games of 2012 at left guard before being replaced by Bobbie Williams.
Or something like that.
Since the 2014 version of free agency began, the Browns have spent $55.8 million in guaranteed money.
That’s the highest total in the AFC North, and following the matching of Jacksonville’s offer to Alex Mack, ranks third in the league in guaranteed money spent since March 11.
Which means the Browns rank third to the Bucs and Broncos in guaranteed money, with most of it going to Mack ($18 million reported, though the number has not been confirmed), linebacker Karlos Dansby ($12 million) and safety Donte Whitner ($13 million). The Browns started free agency with a glut of cap space, and they’ve not been shy about using it.
And they’ve spend more than $50 million in guaranteed contracts without even addressing the quarterback position.
Second in the division in spending are the Baltimore Ravens at $36.3 million, though their total does not include re-signing Dennis Pitta just before free agency began. That signing brings the Ravens' guaranteed money total to $52.3 million -- still short of the Browns.
Most of Baltimore’s money went to Pitta and offensive tackle Eugene Monroe ($19 million).
Take away those two re-signings and Baltimore’s guaranteed total of $18 million is more like a team that feels good about itself.
Same for the Bengals, a team that has made the playoffs three years in a row and feels it’s close to something good. Cincinnati has spent just $7.3 million in guaranteed money, the fourth lowest total in the league.
Pittsburgh? The Steelers never go overboard in free-agent spending and this year is no different. Their total of $8.7 million is just ahead of Cincinnati.