Dennis Pitta Dislocates Hip, How Will Ravens Replace Him?
Sep 21, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) winces in pain after getting injured during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
In what is a cruel twist of repeat fate, the Ravens win over the Browns came with a huge price as Dennis Pitta dislocated and possibly fractured the very same hip he injured last season. It’s most likely a season ending injury, and one that throws a huge monkey wrench into the Raven’s offense.
With the Ravens running a ton of two tight end sets in their offense, how will the team replace Pitta’s production? After all, Pitta had racked up 20 targets through 2 1/2ish games and has played on 94% of the teams snaps. #2 tight end Owen Daniels has played on 53%, and third tight end Crockett Gillmore has been in on only 8%.
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The obvious answer is that Daniels will take a more prominent role, but he is 31 years old and looks downright slow on the field. He has, however, proved to be solid in the red zone and has an overall positive grade from Pro Football Focus thus far. Daniels knows the offense and can be an asset in the passing game, if he can stay healthy.
Gillmore, however, is a third round pick who comes with a lot of promise but has yet to prove that he can handle more snaps. The Ravens have proven that they will trust a rookie if he proves that he can be trusted – a la Lorenzo Taliaferro. But Gillmore hasn’t capitalized on the opportunities he has had through the preseason or last week against the Steelers.
The more realistic possibility is that we will see the Ravens run less two tight end sets and perhaps even use Torrey Smith on some more of the high percentage routes that Steve Smith has been running. Kyle Juszczyk had a breakout game against the Browns and could be in line for a bigger role as well.
There isn’t much out there on the waiver wire in regards to tight ends. It’s highly doubtful that the Ravens could lure a guy like Tony Gonzalez out of retirement (though he didn’t deny he might come back for a shot at a title on Thursday Night Football this week). Jermichael Finley isn’t healthy, and neither is Kellen Winslow. Most likely, we will see a third tier kind of player signed merely for depth.