"I've got to be able to play at an elite level; that's what it takes to play in this league," said Dennis Pitta. "We'll see how the next few weeks go." (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

The Ravens are sticking with their plan to not rush back tight end Dennis Pitta in his recovery from surgery on his fractured, dislocated right hip.

Pitta remains on injured reserve-designated to return and wasn't activated before today's NFL transaction deadline, meaning he's not eligible to play in Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

The best-case scenario for Pitta, who participated in individual drills Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and caught passes after practice, is for him to return in time for the Ravens' Dec. 8 home game against the Minnesota Vikings, according to sources. He hasn't been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the Ravens would prefer to get Pitta more practice time before he plays in an actual game.

The Ravens could also activate Pitta at the end of the three-week window in which he can either be placed on the active roster or go on season-ending injury reserve. They can carry him on the roster heading into the Vikings game and then bring him back later in December, perhaps in time for a Dec. 16 game against the Detroit Lions. The hope, for now, is to have Pitta back for the Vikings game, barring any setbacks.

The Ravens aren't going to risk any kind of setback for Pitta and disrupt the excellent progress he's made since first getting hurt in training camp July 27.

On Friday, Pitta said he and the team are exercising caution.

"You always have that concern, you don't want to come back too soon and put yourself at risk," Pitta said. "We’ll be smart with it and take it day by day and see how it goes. ... I feel great, I felt really good. It’s amazing how quickly it can come back. I’m feeling strong, running well. Everything’s been positive.”

Pitta looked fairly sharp running routes and catching passes this week, planting and cutting without noticeably favoring his right hip.

"There's always an adjustment when you're doing it for the first time again, especially with a helmet and shoulder pads on," Pitta said. “I'll just continue to keep working on it and get it more comfortable."

awilson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/RavensInsider