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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

Week 1 NFL locals preview: Who is Pitta's favorite opponent? Probably the Bengals

By Brandon Judd, Deseret News

Published: Thu, Sept. 4 6:15 p.m. MDT

 Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) runs against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Cincinnati.

Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) runs against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, in Cincinnati.

(David Kohl, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Dennis Pitta, now healthy following a season that was derailed by injury, is matching up against a familiar foe when he and the Baltimore Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 of the NFL season.

If recent history is any indication, the former BYU tight end — one of the top players with Utah ties to watch during the first week of the season — could be in for a big game.

As he heads into his fifth NFL season, Pitta has had six career regular-season games with 60-plus yards receiving. Three of those have come against AFC North foe Bengals, and he will have a prime opportunity to build on that when Baltimore hosts Cincinnati at 11 a.m. MDT Sunday.

During his NFL career, Pitta has had 20 receptions for 199 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals. In three of his last four games vs. Cincinnati, he has recorded 62, 73 and 63 receiving yards; in the fourth game, Pitta played only 11 snaps as Baltimore rested its starters in the 2012 season finale in preparation for the playoffs.

pitta vs. bengals past 3 years | Create Infographics

CONFIDENT IN HIS TEAM: Former Ute free safety Eric Weddle is a fixture in the San Diego secondary, and he is expecting big things from a Chargers team that reached the AFC quarterfinals last season.

“We can win it all,” Weddle told sportsoutwest.com this week. “We’ve added some pieces that we’ve needed both defensively, offensively. Got our guys back (on) special teams.

“We’re a year better, a year better under the system. … We play our best and we stay healthy for 16 games, we can beat anybody.”

The journey toward another postseason begins for San Diego with a Monday night matchup at the Arizona Cardinals.

WAGNER GETTING RECOGNIZED: Former Utah State linebacker Bobby Wagner recently returned to practice after dealing with a hamstring injury through most of training camp. The third-year 'backer is earning respect for his role on the defending champion Seahawks' defense, as ESPN ranked him the 41st-best defensive player in the NFL.

"Including the postseason, Wagner has 309 tackles in his first two seasons in the NFL," ESPN wrote. "The only players with more during that span are Luke Kuechly (330) and Vontaze Burfict (311)."

Wagner, who had five tackles in Seattle's preseason finale, and the Seahawks face the Green Bay Packers in the NFL season opener Thursday night.

Email: bjudd@deseretnews.com; Twitter: @brandonljudd

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1. Jazz Source
Alpine, UT,
Sept. 5, 2014

Love watching players with Utah ties regardless of school.

Pitta is a beast when he gets it going.

Last night Bobby Wagner started the season with 13 tackles against the Packers. Turbin had a few decent runs as well.

Good stuff.