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The injury bug is not just in New England. A former Patriot now Bronco, Dan Koppen, and a Baltimore Raven, Dennis Pitta, are declared out for the season.

Pitta fractured his hip and had so much damage to it he reportedly needed surgery the same day. According to NFL.com's Dan Hanzus Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said "there's no way" the tight end can play in the 2013 season.

Pitta was injured during practice Saturday, when he collided with safety James Ihedigbo on a jump ball in the back of the end zone. Trainers tended to Pitta, who covered his face with a towel as he was carted off the field.

Pitta has been the Ravens' starting tight end since Todd Heap left the team after the 2010 season. Pitta, a 2010 fourth round pick out of Brigham Young, currently has 102 receptions for 1,075 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pitta was in a contract year looking for leverage on a big extension.

You will hear that the loss of Pitta won't do a thing to the Ravens but that is simply not true. The Ravens' run game will be affected by Pitta being gone. Pitta at 6"4 and 245 pounds was a stout blocking tight end. Without Pitta and with the possibility of losing fullback Vonta Leach as well, the Ravens are in serious trouble. Ray Rice, the speedy short halfback, will have trouble finding room without them and I even see him going under 1,000 yards on the season.

The injury also effects the passing game. Flacco is also missing Anquan Boldin who is now a 49er and while Dennis Pitta was a blocking tight end, he was also a big red zone target. Patriot fans know that Pitta is a factor in the passing game, just look at week 3 of last year (five catches, 50 years, 1 touchdown).

My take? The defending NFL champions will slump this year and might win 10 games. We all know Flacco is not elite and his receivers bail him out. Even Mark Sanchez would have success with Flacco's targets and his protection. Watch out for Flacco at a McDonald's near you after a loss.

The Ravens' top backup plans include Ed Dickson and former Patriots Visanthe Shiancoe and Alex Silvestro. The good thing for Pitta is that at least he doesn't have to worry about Jerod Mayo this season.

The injury bug hit not just the east coast but also the west.

New England's former starting center and hand warmer of Tom BradyDan Koppen, was struck with a torn ACL in his left knee at Broncos practice on Sunday.

FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer originally reported that the team feared Koppen had torn the ligament but that was later thrown out as the injury was declared more severe. The Bronco's protection is a huge concern due to their frail quarterback Peyton Manning, who's neck concerns we are all well aware of.

The Denver Broncos starting center Dan Koppen has suffered a torn ACL in his left knee, the team has confirmed to FOXSports.com.

The injury comes just five weeks after Koppen rejoined the Denver Broncos following J.D. Walton's setback in his comeback from ankle surgery.

The Broncos o-line was beat up last season with All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady needing right shoulder surgery. Clady is now limited along with Orlando Franklin and Chris Kuper who are also coming off surgeries. The only starting offensive lineman to get through the season uninjured was left guard Zane Beadles. The Broncos center position now goes to Manny Ramirez who has proven himself with a 108-28 record in games he has started.

I feel for Koppen here but injuries are a part of the game we all love. It is unfortunate but it does create opportunity. Denver will feel the effect but will still be able to keep up the pace. The Broncos are the Patriots' main competition in the AFC. With Koppen's injury, watch for the Broncos to look more to Wes Welker on quick passes. The Patriots' familiarity with their former player should be an advantage here.

These two injuries mean that the Pats can take advantage of backup players (which Bill Belichick loves to expose) who may not be capable of filling the roles. With a potentially improved Patriots' pass rush, the AFC (mainly Broncos, Ravens) should be worried. Even given the Patriots recent injury concerns and off-field problems, the Pats look much better off now than they did a week ago. I see the Pats beating both of these teams when they play each other this year.

Ian Kea 7/29/2013 01:50:00 PM Edit
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