Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta returned to the practice field Wednesday, nearly four months after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated hip.
The injury occurred on the second day of training camp, when Pitta and safety James Ihedigbo collided in the end zone in pursuit of a high pass. Pitta landed awkwardly on his side and had to be carted off the field.
Pitta underwent surgery that night and was subsequently placed on injured reserve with a designated-to-return tag. Although it initially appeared Pitta was too hurt to play this season, he worked diligently in the training room and his efforts paid off when he joined his teammates at practice.
"It feels awesome to be able to get back and be in meetings with the guys and hit the field a little bit," he said. "I feel great. I’m going to take it slow, though, and make sure I can kind of integrate myself back in."
The Ravens desperately miss Pitta, who had 69 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He topped that off with 14 receptions in the postseason, including a touchdown catch in Baltimore’s 34-31 win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
"Nothing against our receivers, tight ends or anybody, but anytime you lose a good player that’s been a big part of what we’ve done around here, you miss something," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
The Ravens (4-6) own the league’s 30th-ranked offense, and their tight ends have only three touchdown catches.
There are no guarantees that Pitta will be able to return this season. But now there is hope.
"It was great to see him out there, great to see him in the meeting room," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s done a great job with the rehab. It will be interesting to see how he comes along in practice."
Pitta is delighted to be back on the field, but it’s going to be a while before he knows if he can play in a game.
"I’ve got to be able to play at an elite level," he said. "We’ll see how the next few weeks go, see how I progress and how I’m doing on the field."