AFC North: Dennis Pitta’s Rise. Jason Pinkston’s Return


September 10, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) leaps above Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Leon Hall (29) to catch a second half touchdown at M

The Baltimore Ravens announced Monday that tight end Dennis Pitta has signed his $2.023 million second-round restricted free agent tender.

Pitta can become an unrestricted free agent in 2014, but the Ravens will work to get a long-term deal done before that. Pitta is coming off a season in which he set career highs in receptions (61), yards (669) and touchdowns (7). During the Ravens’ magical playoff run, Pita registered 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in four Ravens wins.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports released his list of breakout players for the upcoming NFL season, and Pitta was one of his picks:

"The Ravens took a lot of abuse about jettisoning stalwart — but expensive and aged — receiver Anquan Boldin in March, and well, with no obvious acquisition made to offset his trade to the 49ers, they still are hearing about it locally. Let’s not get caught up on position designations anymore; in the era of spread offenses the terms are interchangeable and Pitta is ready to surpass what Boldin could do. Call him whatever you want. But he has the size and is much faster than Boldin and can separate more. And with Jim Caldwell calling the plays in Baltimore, the middle of the field is more fertile territory. Joe Flacco, Pitta’s BFF, was throwing the hell out of those seam routes on their Super Bowl run and Pitta could easily hit double-digit touchdowns next season and push 1,000 yards receiving."

Cleveland Browns guard Jason Pinkston is back on the field and working with his teammates for the firs time since he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lung on October 19th. He was cleared medically last month, but he sat out the team’s first minicamp four weeks ago. Pinkston has started every game in which he was healthy since he was drafted in the fifth-round in 2011, and according to Jamison Hensley, will be a key reason why the Browns have the best offensive line in the division:

"The Browns have the best lineman in the division, and perhaps the league, in left tackle Joe Thomas. The other star on the line is center Alex Mack. The biggest improvement should be at right tackle, where Mitchell Schwartz starts his second season. The guards are average, especially if John Greco has to replace Jason Pinkston, who is returning from a blood clot in the lung."

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