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Ravens TE Pitta realistic about the risks, but wants to play


Ravens TE Pitta realistic about the risks, but wants to play

OWINGS MILLS – Here’s what Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta had to say Wednesday after practicing for the first time this season.  Pitta is still not certain if he will ever play again. But he’s going to try, and will use the next few weeks to assess whether he should return to the NFL after twice fracturing his hip.

-His thoughts on Wednesday’s practice:

“It’s good for me to be back out there, emotionally, mentally, and I felt pretty good physically. It’s just a start. It’s Day 1. I’m encouraged by how I felt today. Obviously I have to shake a little bit of the rust off. The game’s a little bit fast for me still right now. (But) I didn’t anticipate feeling this good at this point, being where I’m at. I’m certainly pleased by that.”

-On what will determine whether he returns or not:

“It’s a combination of everything. It’ll be a physical aspect of it, a mental aspect, and emotional. It’s not entirely in my hands how the team feels about me playing, and if I can potentially add any value to this team. There’s a lot of factors that will go into it. There are a lot of decisions to be made, not just by me, but by other individuals.”

-What does Pitta’s wife (Mataya) think about him attempting to come back?

“She was nervous last night, just didn’t want to get a call that something went wrong today. She supports me in anything that I do.”

-Has anyone discouraged him from trying to come back?

“Absolutely. Had people on both ends of the spectrum. I weigh both opinions heavily.”

-If he cannot play this season, would Pitta consider coming back next season?

“I’m not sure. I would like to think that if I can’t make it back this year, what’s going to change next year? In my mind, it’s kind of, I’m working to come back this year – if I can’t, then that might be it.”

-How concerned is Pitta about re-injuring his hip?

“There’s definitely concern of getting injured, but I think that’s the nature of football. I could go out and blow out my ACL just as easily. That’s part of the risk of playing football…And I understand those risks – quite well.“

[RELATED: Pitta takes next step, returns to practice with Ravens]



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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

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Dominant defense earns Ravens' Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors

The defensive performance on display by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday against the Tennessee Titans in a 21-0 shutout win was flat out historic. So historic that it's earned linebacker Za'Darius Smith AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

A franchise-record 11 sacks were laid on quarterback Marcus Mariota during the Week 6 matchup, with Smith leading the way with three of them.   

So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble. As someone who is in the final year of his rookie NFL contract, he's certainly proving he is worthy of getting paid this offseason. 

"It feels great, man. It's big," Smith said of the honor during media availability Wednesday. "I know when I first found out I called my mom and she was already looking at it. But I called her and she was trying to congratulate me and was like 'who would've ever thought the guy that played one year of high school football would be where he at now and making so many goals.'"

But earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week isn't the only goal Smith has in mind. His performance through the first six weeks and assisting the No. 1 ranked scoring defense is just a stepping stone to the ultimate honor.

"I was telling her, 'Ma you know this is a good self-goal but my main goal is to get us to the Super Bowl.'" 

The road to the Super Bowl for Smith and the Ravens continues this Sunday vs. Drew Brees and the Saints. 


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Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

Peter King awards two Ravens with weekly honors for defensive performance vs.Titans

The Baltimore Ravens' Week 6 dominate performance over the Tennessee Titans is gaining national attention. 

A historic game that displayed the offense and defense firing on all cylinders, it's hard to pinpoint who had the biggest impact. 

So in his latest edition of Football Morning in America, NBC Sports' Peter King awarded not one, but two Ravens with weekly honors.


Against the Titans, Smith led the Ravens defense with three sacks and five tackles in their historic 11-sack game. On of three Defensive Players of the Week, King explained why Smith's performance stood out.

In the most dominant defensive performance of this ultra-offensive season, the Ravens shut out Tennessee 21-0 and had 11 sacks. Another one of GM Ozzie Newsome’s draft gifts that keeps on giving, Smith (2015, round four, Kentucky) contributed three sacks of Marcus Mariota and five tackles in a virtuoso game. Net passing yards for Mariota: 51.

Smith, who's entering the final year of his rookie NFL contract, has shown over six games he deserves to get paid in the offseason. So far this season the 26-year-old has 20 combined tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble. 

COACH OF THE WEEK: Don "Wink" Martindale

In his first season as defensive coordinator, Don "Wink" Martindale has seamlessly made the transition from linebackers coach to leading the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense (12.8). But what impressed King the most from the 21-0 shutout was how Martindale's squad got to Mariota from every direction. 

When a unit records more sacks (11) than completions allowed (10), the leader gets an award. Those are the rules. Martindale’s pass rushers got to Marcus Mariota every possible way—up the middle, around the edges, in the pocket, on bootlegs, you name it. The total set a new franchise record and was one short of the single-game NFL mark of 12. And it came with a familiar face watching: Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to hold the same position in Baltimore. Shout out to the Ravens social media team for renaming the account RavenSSSSSSSSSSS, one ‘S’ for each sack.

This Ravens defense, who has always been known for its dominance, is ranked first in points allowed (12.8), first in yards allowed (270.8), second in passing yards allowed (188.0) and third in rushing yards allowed (82.8) heading into Week 7. In addition, they have yet to surrender a second half touchdown all season. Trusting of the talent this roster holds, the respect "Wink" has for his players is equally reciprocated. 

"It was really emotional when they told us we had 11 sacks," linebacker Patrick Onwuasor said postgame. "We just went out there and we were like, ‘We have to get Coach Wink . We have to put the Gatorade on him.’ So, we tried to turn him around so he couldn’t see it coming, and we had to get him real good."

Martindale will now face the No. 1 scoring offense in the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.