Pitta, who caught 40 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns last season while emerging as one of quarterback Joe Flacco's most trusted targets, had surgery Tuesday and will likely miss the rest of the preseason. The good news is the timetable for his return is four to six weeks, meaning he still has a realistic chance of playing in the season opener Sept. 10.
Pitta, a 2010 fourth-round draft pick from BYU, exited Monday's training camp practice about 45 minutes into the session, alongside a trainer. He was hurt while blocking on a running play. Harbaugh said after the practice, in which players were in full pads, that all indications were that Pitta had broken his hand, but there would be further testing Tuesday.
Pitta is one of Flacco's closest friends on the team and their chemistry had been growing on the football field, too. Flacco threw Pitta's way often in the final three games of 2011, including the AFC championship, in which Flacco targeted the soft-handed tight end eight times. Pitta had five catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in the 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots.
Fellow third-year tight end Ed Dickson, who had 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns last season, remains the starter while veteran Davon Drew and rookie free agents Bruce Figgins (Georgia) and Matt Balasavage (Temple) are bidding to make the roster out of training camp.