The Ravens remain optimistic that the hip injury sustained by Dennis Pitta early in preseason will not be season-ending, as originally feared.
Speaking with the media on Friday, coach John Harbaugh said the Ravens are still considering whether to use the Injured Reserve-Designated-To-Return tag on Pitta. As it implies, that designation -- which was used by Ray Lewis after his triceps injury last year -- would keep open the option of Pitta's return later this season.
Pitta, the Ravens' top tight end last season with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season -- went down early in camp with what was diagnosed as a fractured hip after he crashed to the ground in the end zone during practice. The injury was originally thought to be season-ending, but Harbaugh said later that there was no ligament or cartilage damage, so a return this season hasn't been ruled out.
The Ravens opted to keep Pitta on the 53-man roster that was set on Saturday. That buys them a few more days to decide whether to place Pitta on the IR/Designated to Return list, or whether to place him on regular injured reserve, which would end his season.
Either way, it also essentially keeps open a roster spot for the Ravens; once Pitta goes to one of the IR lists, the Ravens have an open spot on their roster, and they are likely combing the waiver wire right now.
But the Designated to Return tag comes with a catch: It can be used by a team only once in a season.
On Friday, Harbaugh sounded as if the Ravens were leaning toward using it on Pitta.
"I think early next week, Tuesday or Wednesday, we have to make that decision, and I would say things are progressing favorably towards that," Harbaugh said. "He’s doing a really good job. I saw him today, and he spent some time with (owner) Steve Bisciotti today, too. So, he’s working really hard, and he’s had no setbacks, and there’s optimism there.”
"Dennis is a great player, in our opinion," Harbaugh added, "and this is an opportunity that seems like it might make sense for him.”