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Pitta still hoping to return to field

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Pitta still hoping to return to field

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta said last week that he still hopes to resume his career after missing all of last season with his second major hip injury, but he remained vague about the prospects of doing so.

“There’s no timeline as far as when a decision is going to be made,” Pitta said as the Ravens cleared out their locker room last week. “We’ll give it some time this offseason, and I’ll certainly do some thinking and testing my body and hip, and we’ll see.”

If that sounds familiar, it's pretty much exactly what Pitta said last summer and fall as he tried to rehabilitate from his second dislocated hip.

“At this point, nothing has changed from when we last spoke,” he added. “I certainly have a desire to play and want to play and want to be a part of this team moving forward. But we’ll see how it plays out.”

Pitta, who signed a five-year, $32.5 million deal before the 2014 season, is due a base salary of $5 million next season and carries a $7.2 million cap figure for 2016. Those are huge numbers for someone who has played seven games in the past three years. He would appear to be a prime cap casualty, but the Ravens won't realize a ton of savings; there is $6.6 million in dead money to contend with if Pitta is let go, though they will realize some savings if he is deemed a post-June 1 cut.  That would allow the Ravens to transfer $4.4 million of that dead money to 2017; that dead money isn't going away, it just becomes a question of when that bill would be paid.

The Ravens clearly are a better team with a healthy Pitta, who had 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl season. But there is no guarantee -- or even likelihood -- that Pitta, who turns 31 in June, can return to the field after doctors essentially shut him down last season before he could ever come off the physically-unable-to-perform list.

The Ravens last year drafted two tight ends, Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle, an indication that they were prepared for life after Pitta. Those two showed promise this season as rookies, and with the emergence of Crockett Gillmore as the starter, the Ravens are well-stocked at tight end without Pitta.

Pitta acknowledged that he has had to wrestle with the prospect that his career is over, but isn't ready to declare that just yet.

"I feel good physically, and I feel like I could go out and run and all that," he said. "It’ll be about weighing the risks versus the rewards at this point. We’ll do some thinking over the next few months in the offseason, get with the doctors again and go from there.”

"At some point, we all move on from the game of football," he later added. "Hopefully, it’s not that soon for me, but if it is, I’ve certainly had to think about it and put some thought into it.”

RELATED: Ravens hope coaching staff continuity pays off 

 

     

 

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Lamar Jackson is his own biggest critic

Kick off your Friday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including how quarterback Lamar Jackson has fared during OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Following a January surgery on his left ankle, safety Tony Jefferson remains sidelined after the first week of OTAs. Originally, Jefferson was expected to return 4-6 weeks after surgery. However, now that it's 5 months later, his return timetable is becoming more and more concerning. 

2. Quarterback Lamar Jackson spoke with Ravens media Thursday about his progress not only learning the new offense implemented by Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman, but learning the names of his new teammates as well. After another day of OTAs, Jackson was his biggest critic despite a solid day of running plays namely passing drills. “I’d say my first day, I sucked,” Jackson said to Ravens media. “Second day, I did better. Today was alright, but it could have been better. I always try to be perfect in practice. It was alright for the first week.”

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.

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