Dennis Pitta making his mark


OWINGS MILLS – Life has changed for Dennis Pitta, no longer an afterthought or the forgotten man in the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.

One year after the former Brigham Young standout was an unheralded rookie who caught one pass for one yard last season after being drafted in the fourth round, Pitta has emerged as a much more important figure.

The tight end led the Ravens with a career-high six catches for 62 yards and a touchdown while being targeted seven times during their 24-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that earned them an AFC North division title.

Normally sparing in his compliments of offensive players not named Ray Rice, Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs hasn’t stopped raving about Pitta.

“Mr. Dependable, anytime you need a play, you can rely on him,” Suggs said. “I’m just a Dennis Pitta fan. Here you’ve got this blue-collar guy, he’s not really flamboyant, he’s not really, ‘Hey, give me the ball. He just shows up to work. Throw him the ball, he catches it, he’s happy.

"You tell him to block, he blocks. He’s just one of those guys you want on your team. He can get along with everybody. Whether you’re playing Lil’ Wayne or Garth Brooks, he’ll have fun with it. Everybody likes Dennis Pitta. I love Dennis Pitta. He’s my candidate for MVP.”

With veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin sidelined after knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus and backup wide receiver Lee Evans ineffective as his replacement, the Ravens installed Pitta in Evans’ place against the Bengals.

Pitta caught a nine-yard touchdown pass on a route to the right corner of the end zone.

Playing split end on a regular basis for the first time since he was a skinny high school player, Pitta rose to the occasion as he returned to his roots.

“Shoot, I was tall and skinny back in high school,” Pitta said. “I played wide receiver at times even at BYU. It’s something that’s comfortable for me. It wasn’t too much of an adjustment. With Anquan down and him being such a pivotal part of this offense, other guys had to step up. It’s fun to be able to be flexed out and move all over the field.”

Pitta’s outside presence created matchup problems against the Bengals’ much smaller cornerbacks.

There wasn’t much they could do to account for his size, hands and movement.

“I don’t know what adjustments they made, but they were playing straight-up with corners on the outside against me,” Pitta said. “We do have a size advantage. That’s one of those mismatched we wanted to have.”

Pitta finished with a career-high 40 receptions in his second NFL season, good enough for 405 yards and three touchdowns.

Not bad for the second tight end behind starter Ed Dickson. Together, they combined for 95 receptions for 933 yards and eight touchdowns.

Pitta’s chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco has been upgraded significantly this season, a byproduct of all of the extra time they spend before and after practice playing catch.

As close friends, Pitta and Flacco got together often during the offseason and NFL lockout to maintain their timing.

“Dennis, obviously he didn’t play too much for us last year and wasn’t too big a part of the passing game,” Flacco said. “He had to step up this year and play well. He and I get along great off the field, and I’m sure that definitely has something to do with it, in terms of the chemistry we have on the field. The bottom line is he’s a good player.

“So, it’s not tough to get him the ball, because he’s doing the right kinds of things to get himself open. When a guy is open, it’s my job to just hit him. It’s not tough to build that chemistry with guys when they’re out there on the field doing the right thing. I think he’s a guy who goes out there and does everything the way it should be done.”

Pitta caught six passes for 46 yards in a comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals.

He hauled in five catches for 46 yards in a key November win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And he caught touchdown passes against the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts.

“We had some big games where we went to Pitta, and I was like, ‘OK, where are we going to go?’” Suggs said. “And here comes No. 88 catching the ball in between two defenders. Just the growth of both of those tight ends together, they kind of feed off each other. So, it’s actually made our offense very dangerous.”

Quiet and unassuming by nature, the devout Mormon takes nothing for granted and is typically one of the last players off the practice field.

Pitta broke into a smile at his locker stall when informed of Suggs’ comments.

“I hear him all the time,” Pitta said. “He’s a funny man. It’s a lot of fun for me to hear that, knowing these guys believe in me. It’s always easy to take compliments in this business. I’m out there focused and trying to do my job and help us win.”

Sure-handed and athletic at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Pitta was lightly recruited and had to walk onto the Cougars program.

By his senior year, Pitta was regarded as one of the best tight ends in college football.

It was a big adjustment for Pitta as a rookie when he was apprenticing behind former Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap, who was before this season.

Heap’s departure opened the door for Pitt and Dickson to develop into a potent tight end tandem.

“I think that’s a big part of it,” Pitta said. “It’s about opportunities. Last year, I had to be patient with Todd being an All-Pro and there being a lot of guys at receiver. It’s all about being patient and learning and seeing how those guys handle themselves. This year, it’s about opportunity.”


This entry was posted in The Beat with Aaron Wilson by Aaron Wilson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aaron Wilson

Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post as well as the Baltimore Ravens for The Carroll County Times and He has previously covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans and has covered the NFL since 1997.  He has won several regional writing awards, including, most recently, Best...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

evden eve nakliyat şirketleri ofis taşımacılığı evden eve nakliye istanbul evden eve nakliyat Şehirlerarası Evden Eve Nakliyat İstanbul Nakliyat Firmaları

Hot off the street

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Ravens Best/Worst Free Agent Signings

On March 11, 2012 we took a look at the best and worst free agent signings in Ravens history. Over two years later should the lists be modified? Might Elvis Dumervil be among the best? Michael Huff more

CAMP NOTES: Canty Stalls at the Line & Simon Says Hustle

To echo the famous words of one Forrest Gump: “Watching Chris Canty is like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re going to get play-to-play.”  Alright, so maybe the quote more

CAMP NOTES: Urban Tears His ACL

Several veterans were given the day off on defense as the Ravens held an early morning practice at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills including Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata. One more

CAMP NOTES: Rick Wagner Has Best Day of Camp

On a day overshadowed by Ray Rice speaking at the podium, the Ravens hit the practice field under cool weather conditions at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. Many eyes are more

Improved OL Key to Ravens’ Playoff Hopes

With the first preseason game just a week away for the Baltimore Ravens, and the regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals quickly approaching, it's hard not to be optimistic about the more

View More