The Ravens’ offense took a huge hit with the loss of tight end Dennis Pitta to a season-ending hip dislocation.
Coupled with trading away wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a cap-driven move, it changes the face of their offense this year, particularly on third downs.
But if you’re looking for panic in the face of a reasonably dire situation, you’re looking in the wrong place.
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome told Don Banks of SI.com that past experiences with late-camp changes have at least prepared them for such an event.
“We have a history of making moves just a week or two before the season starts, to be able to put the final pieces together,” Newsome said. “We did that with [offensive tackle] Bryant McKinnie [in 2011]. He came in just before the last preseason game. We did that with [offensive tackle] Willie Anderson, I think in John Harbaugh’s first year , and with [cornerback] Josh Wilson on defense [in 2010]. It’s awfully early. We don’t play Denver tomorrow, and the season is 16 games long. What you worry about is needing to play real good football going into November and December.”
The Ravens will continue to make moves, beyond the expected one of bringing fullback Vonta Leach back.
But it’s also worth noting they have the foundation for a good offense already, with quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice and deep threat wide receiver Torrey Smith. Filling in the blanks with tight ends and second receivers is easier when you have those parts in place, especially with time to adapt.
“We don’t know yet what our identity is going to be on offense yet, because it hasn’t been established yet,” Newsome said. “It’s not there yet, but it wasn’t there yet when Dennis was out there working. It’s going to be developed through training camp and in the preseason games. Now if Dennis is not going to be a part of the offense all year, the offense has to figure out what it is and what it can do best.
“Are we capable of running the football? Are we capable of getting the ball out faster? It could be an offensive identity where we’re running, going play action, and having speed at receiver. Because we’ve got three guys who are going to get behind people now. And people are more afraid of that than the 10-12-yard completion. They don’t want anybody to get behind them, so they’re going to have to defend the full field because of Torrey, Jacoby [Jones] and Deonte [Thompson].”
It will be a change, and it will take time. But because of Newsome and Harbaugh and their ability to adjust on the fly, their chances are much better than most.