Pitta returns to practice, moves closer to lineup

Pitta returns to practice, moves closer to lineup
November 20, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Pitta on return: "I feel great"

Here’s some good news for the Ravens. Dennis Pitta is back at practice. Which means his return to uniform is getting closer.

The Ravens announced Wednesday that Pitta would join them at practice for the first time since suffering his hip injury during training camp that required surgery. Judging from Pitta’s comments, it did not sound like he would be ready to play Sunday against the Jets. However, with six games left to play, the Ravens (4-6) clearly hope to activate PItta off the injured-reserve, designated to return list at some point.

The Ravens (4-6) sorely need what Pitta brings to the tight end position. It’s hard to quantify just how much the Ravens have missed him, but Pitta’s absence has left a huge void. He caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns during the regular season, and he played superb football during the teams' Super Bowl run. Ravens receiver enjoys better chemistry with Joe Flacco. For now, Pitta is glad to rejoin his teammates on the field. And there was no doubt in his mind that he would be in uniform soon.

“I feel great, gonna take it slow though, make sure I can kind of integrate myself back in,” Pitta said. “I had no setbacks in my rehab and treatment, and everything has been going well. We’ve been working hard. Excited to be able to get a little taste of football again.”

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Asked what barometer he would use to know when he was ready for games, Pitta said, “I gotta be able to play at an elite level. That’s what it takes to play in this league. We’ll see how the next few weeks go, and see how I progress, and how I’m doing on the field. Not sure, as of right now, of that timetable.”

It has been months since Pitta has engaged in live contact on the field, so even Pitta was eager to see how his hip would respond to practice this week. “Things like that, you just can’t simulate outside of the football field,” Pitta said. “I’ll do what I can, and take it slow, make sure we’re smart about it and that I’m ready to go when that time comes.”

Pitta is in the final year of his contract, but said that isn’t factoring into his timetable to return.

“Obviously it’s a part of this business, but I’m focused on helping our team win, and doing what I can to get back and contribute.”

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Neither Dallas Clark (27 catches, 311 yards, three touchdowns) nor Ed Dickson (12 catches, 140 yards, on touchdowns) has filled the offensive vacuum left by Pitta.

“Versatility,” said Dickson, describing what Pitta brings.“With him out there, I mean he caught 61 passes last year. If he had gotten a chance to play this year, he might have caught more, the chemistry he has with Joe. He’s a dynamic player.”

Barring any setbacks, it appears the Ravens will add a key offensive weapon at some point down the stretch.