It's been a long process for the Ravens' tight end duo to get back to the field.
Ed Dickson (shoulder) has been out since the Ravens' first preseason game in Atlanta. Dennis Pitta (hand) has been sidelined for more than a month, since before preseason games even began.
The tight ends returned to practice for the first time on August 25, but are still taking it slow.
Both Dickson and Pitta characterized their status for Monday night's regular-season opener versus Cincinnati as game-time decisions.
"We just prepare ourselves each day and we hope to play," Pitta said.
"Obviously, we don't know at this point. We'll have to see how it feels over the next couple days. We're doing everything we can to prepare ourselves to play because we want to be out there."
Dickson said he's not sure what the result will be, but that he and the coaches are in communication about how his body responds to increased practice.
"They trust me. I think if I say I'm able to go they'll play me," Dickson said.
The first injury report will not be released until tomorrow and Head Coach John Harbaugh has not commented on the tight ends' status since last week, when he said they "seem to be ahead of schedule."
Pitta said his greatest hurdle to returning is regaining comfort catching the ball after breaking his hand. He has been catching passes and blocking in practice.
Dickson said he's looking to regain the chemistry he lost out on this preseason, when the offense was installing its up-tempo, no-huddle offense.
"It's definitely difficult because you miss that chemistry that you gel with in camp and those preseason games," Dickson said. "It's up to myself, it's up to the quarterbacks to work hard and get up to speed."
Upshaw Expects To Play
Rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw re-tweaked his shoulder injury in the Ravens' preseason finale, but expects to play Monday night.
"Most definitely, I feel great," Upshaw told reporters Wednesday. "The treatment has gone well."
Upshaw first missed a week during training camp and the Ravens' preseason opener. With the rookie's progress on hold, outside linebacker Albert McClellan took the reigns as the starter.
Upshaw returned, but didn't have a big impact in the three other preseason games. He recorded one sack and four tackles.
Upshaw said he's not using the shoulder as an excuse for the way he played. "The ups and downs for me just lead back to me competing," he said.
After the fourth and final game, Upshaw tweeted, "From here on out I'm approaching everything I do in a way where when I'm done I know no one out worked me on and off the field."
Upshaw has been working to shed weight and reported that he's down to 271 pounds. It should help him maintain better stamina throughout games, and could help him get to the quarterback quicker.
"It's been a long time coming," he said of his weight. "I feel good. I look skinnier, don't I?"
Yanda Is 100 Percent
Right guard Marshal Yanda said he sprained his medial collateral ligament in his right knee during a training camp practice in which former linebacker Chavis Williams rolled into him.
Yanda didn't play in the final two preseason games, but expects to be back versus the Bengals.
"I feel great. I'm 100 percent," he said.
Yanda said the ligament was "loose" for a while, but that it has tightened back up. It's not an injury that requires surgery, and he's wearing a knee brace and tape for precautionary reasons only.
The 2011 Pro Bowler said he could have played in the preseason games if he had to. Last year, Yanda played in a Week 17 game against Cincinnati only days after having emergency leg surgery.
"I wasn't going to fight through it during the preseason and make it worse," Yanda said. "We were just going to let it heal all the way and that's what it's done, so I'm feeling good."