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Pitta takes next step, returns to practice with Ravens

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Pitta takes next step, returns to practice with Ravens

OWINGS MILLS -- Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is returning to practice Wednesday, coach John Harbaugh said. For Pitta, returning to practice was the next step in his attempt to resume his career, following two major hip injuries since 2013.

Pitta missed all but four games in 2013 after fracturing his hip during training camp. Then Pitta re-injured his hip in Week 3 of 2014 on a non-contact play, and he has not played since. He was placed on the PUP list prior to training camp.

Harbaugh cautioned that returning to practice for Pitta did not mean an imminent return to the lineup. However, Pitta clearly wants to return to the NFL, despite two major hip surgeries since 2013. Pitta has been seen running pass routes on game days during pre-game warmups, but the daily grind of practice will be another test for Pitta’s hip. 

“It’s Dennis’ decision, along with his family,”Harbaugh said prior to Wednesday's practice.  “He’s going to see how he feels out there, and how he responds. He’s been working very hard.

“I wouldn’t make too much of it. Especially for this week. Don’t get carried away. Probably the bigger thing is how he feels today, tomorrow, the day after that after practicing.”

The Ravens have drafted three tight ends since 2014 – Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, and Nick Boyle – knowing that Pitta’s future was uncertain. However, Pitta is still only 30 years old, and helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl in 2012, his last full season, with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

Harbaugh said Pitta deserved credit for how hard he has worked in his attempt to come back.

“I’m just happy for Dennis, happy that he’ll be out here doing what he loves to do,” Harbaugh said. “When you put the kind of work he’s put in, and you see what he’s done every single day. Wherever it goes, we’ll see. But I’m just really uplifted for him.” 

MORE RAVENS: Being on road Monday night nothing new for Ravens

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As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

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USA TODAY Sports

As 2018 NFL Draft approaches, Ravens to host QB Lamar Jackson per report

With 10 days until the 2018 NFL Draft, quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to visit the Ravens this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. 

The former Heisman Trophy winner is a projected first-round pick as he has proven to have success in the air and on the ground. 

While at Louisville, Jackson had 9,043 passing yards and 69 touchdowns. He also rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. His NFL draft profile compares him to Michael Vick. 

RELATED: BEST QUOTES FROM RAVENS PRE-DRAFT PRESS CONFERENCE

The Ravens are in search of Joe Flacco's successor, but spending a first-round pick on a quarterback when there are other glaring needs is up in the air. However, assistant general manager Eric DeCosta isn't ruling out the possibility

"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the team's website on the chance of drafting a quarterback in the first-round.

At their pre-draft press conference, GM Ozzie Newsome and DeCosta kept reiterating we could be surprised by who they pick at No. 16, if they do at all. 

While Jackson's numbers are impressive, he continues to be considered a late first-round pick as his build isn't up to typical NFL QB standards and scouts are concerned with his accuracy. What he does have in his favor is speed.

While fans are hoping for an offensive weapon, having Jackson learn under Flacco for a year (and maybe RGIII?) could rev up some excitement. 

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

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Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Heisman Trophy winner turned backup, Robert Griffin III fully embracing new role with Ravens

Robert Griffin III went from Heisman Trophy winner, to second-overall pick, to Offensive Rookie of the Year, to unemployed, to backup quarterback all in the matter of six years.

That's a rollercoaster of a career for a 28-year old, but RGIII is fully embracing the opportunity the Ravens have presented him with.

“I feel like I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s [Flacco] team," Griffin said at a press conference Wednesday.

"I understood that when I came in to work out; I understood that when I signed. I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete, and I’m here to get better every single day – work hard. I think they saw that from me in the workout and in our general conversations together. I think they realize I’m ready for the opportunity and I’m ready for this role – whatever that role may be.”

RELATED: RGIII READY TO MOVE FORWARD AS NEW, GROWN PLAYER

Finding a backup quarterback that you can put some faith in during a time of desperation in today's league is a hard find, with the exception of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. 

While Griffin hasn't played since January of 2017, he offers legitimate experience that isn't being offered by typical backups. 

 "I feel like I’ve been able to get a better grasp of how to play the game in the NFL, what coaches are looking for. I think that’s a benefit, whereas in 2012 when I came in, it was more so learning everything on the fly and just going out and playing. Now I feel like I have to ability to go out and play and also know what I’m doing, be able to protect myself better, get the ball to the guys that need to get the ball and help a team win – in whatever way that is.”

The Ravens signed RGIII on a one-year contract worth $1 million - we're assuming- with hopes he'll never see the field during the regular season. Griffin made it clear he understands that role, but is looking forward to learning how to lead a team under a ten-year veteran. 

RELATED: RAVENS 2018 PRESEASON SCHEDULE

“Most of my interactions with Joe have been at midfield. I really do look forward to getting in the quarterback room with him. It’s a great opportunity for me. I still feel like I’m a young player. I’m 28, but I feel like I’m 25. He’s been through a lot of things in his career, been to the pinnacle and won a Super Bowl – Super Bowl MVP. I think that’s a great opportunity for me to learn and learn from him, and to just see the way that he attacks the game of football, the way he attacks the meeting room, practice, interacting with teammates – all those types of things – the way he leads." 

The RGIII saga in Baltimore is an open book right now, one that could come with an interesting ending.