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ICYMI: The Best Stories You Missed From NFL Week 7

This week: The return of Dennis Pitta, the rise of Charcandrick West, and the massive torso of Rob Haverstein.
October 30, 2015, 8:09pm
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Pitta Despair

Dennis Pitta began practicing with the Baltimore Ravens in Week 7.

There's nothing extraordinary about that by itself. Pitta is a tight end under contract with the Ravens, so of course he'd practice with them. But Week 7 also marked the first time Pitta set foot on a football field since Week 3 of the 2014 season, when he fractured and dislocated his right hip for the second time in two years.

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Pitta's on-field value to the Ravens was enormous, and he would have played a huge role for the Ravens in 2014. Then offensive-coordinator Gary Kubiak was so enamored of Pitta's ability—and potential within Kubiak's offense—the Ravens signed Pitta to a five-year, $32 million deal despite the initial hip injury.

Read More: What American Football Can Learn From the Rugby World Cup

If Pitta's hip had held up, he might have given the Ravens the edge they needed to complete their upset of the Patriots last postseason—and NFL history would have been wildly different.

Instead, Kubiak is gone, and the Ravens have moved on. They drafted the consensus top pass-catching tight end prospect of 2015, Maxx Williams, in the second round. Head coach John Harbaugh told Jamison Henley of ESPN.com "I'm planning on [Pitta] not being back." Harbaugh has said the decision on whether to return is Pitta's to make.

"I can tell you this, and I don't think I'm speaking out of turn, that he really wants to play," Harbaugh said. "He really wants to have a career and he wants to have a legacy as a player. That's more important than anything, money or anything else. The statement he's able to make about his football career. The other part is his quality of life, which he's got to mix into that consideration. That's what he's trying to figure out."

Dr. David Chao, a former NFL head physician with over 17 years of experience, told CBS Baltimore's Samuel Njoku that it's "very unlikely" Pitta continues in football if he doesn't catch on right now; rolling the dice on further instability, long-term arthritis or even necrosis in the hip is not a risk another team would be willing to take.

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At this point, it's still an open question whether Pitta's willing to take that risk—and if he does, what he'll be able to do with however much time on the field he is given.

Charcandrick West is making people forget about Jamaal Charles. Or at least trying to. Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports.

Go West, Young Man

You've heard the name Charcandrick West. In this fantasy-football obsessed sporting culture, a backup to one of the league's best running backs will never be anonymous. Then, of course, there's the name: Charcandrick. Christened with a derivative of his biological father's name, he may be the only Charcandrick on the planet.

His 110-yard performance against the Steelers in Week 7—including his first career touchdown—turned a few heads, but most have missed the better story.

Both of the two men he's competed with for carries, Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, were big-deal high school recruits out of Texas. Charles starred for U-T, while Davis was All-SEC at Arkansas. Both were third-round draft picks, expected to contribute early and often.

West took a much harder road.

Coming out of Springhill, Louisiana, West overcame juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to earn several D-I offers, including Davis' alma mater of Arkansas. But West wasn't able to stay academically eligible. He went to Texas, but not U-T; he played for D-II Abiliene Christian.

As tailback in a pass-first offense, West didn't get a lot of chances to shine. His senior season, he racked up 14 touchdowns on only 145 attempts—and that was his only 100-carry season. West's ticket to the pros was his sterling Pro Day performance.

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Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, West never stopped fighting for his spot. While it took a season-ending ACL injury to Charles to clear the way for West to start, he'd passed by Davis as the change-of-pace back as early as Week 4.

Getting a legitimate starting-caliber performance from West changes everything for the Chiefs: Instead of a brutal start and immediate end to their season with Charles' injury, they have hope. A win in London over the Detroit Lions would set them up with three wins going into the bye; with the help of a soft December schedule they wouldn't need a miracle to claw back into the AFC Wild Card race. This team has more than enough talent to make a serious run—and West has more than enough talent to be the running back they need.

They had to make the tunnel bigger so Rob Havenstein could fit through it. Photo by Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another

The offensive rookie garnering all the attention in St. Louis is running back Todd Gurley, and duh. In just three games with a significant workload, Gurley has piled up an extraordinary 433 yards. With just 68 carries in those games, he's averaged an outstanding 6.4 yards per carry.

Even more impressively, he's done it behind a St. Louis Rams offensive line that's been an irredeemable dumpster fire.

Or has it?

Enter Rob Havenstein, a second-round rookie tackle from Wisconsin who, well, let's just say he's named very well. At 6'7", 332 pounds, he's a barrel-chested beast; his long, well-appointed 33 ¾" arms look puny just for being attached to Havenstein's giant beer keg of a torso.

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Plus, I mean, Havenstein? Have-a-stein? Big guy, beer? Wisconsin? Come on. The jokes are too easy.

But Havenstein's play has been anything but a joke. The youngster has more than held his own against NFL competition:

Rob Havenstein is doing WORK for the @STLouisRams. Watch the right tackle work over the Packers d-line @linganorefb pic.twitter.com/6xoHGPn9wz
— Kyle McFadden (@k_fadd) October 12, 2015

He looked dominant against the Cleveland Browns in Week 7, playing every single snap and not allowing a single pressure. Though Gurley and the Rams ran mostly to the left (attacking the Browns' right-outside-linebacker-by-committee), it's easy to see Havenstein developing into a better run blocker, too.

If only the Rams had two or three more of him.