Dennis Pitta

Dennis Pitta has been working out at the Ravens' facility and is expected to return before the end of the season. (Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun / December 11, 2011)

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is eligible to come off the injured reserve with a designation to return list next week, although that never was a realistic expectation for his return from a dislocated right hip. 

However, coach John Harbaugh said that the team remains optimistic that Pitta, who was hurt during the first padded practice of training camp on July 27, will return later this season.

“Nothing has changed as far as I know,” Harbaugh said. “Everything is on schedule. There have been no setbacks with Dennis, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Until we get him on the field and see him start running around, I think we’ll know more then. I’m looking forward to that. That will be very interesting.”

Pitta, 28, has been rehabilitating the injury at the team facility and has made occasional appearances at practices to catch balls from the JUGS machine and to watch his teammates.

“He’s working his tail off, rehab-wise,” Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “It’s always pretty cool to see him in [the building] and really see his progression. Hopefully, he can get back. I don’t know an exact date and if I did, I wouldn’t give you all any hints anyway. But he’s definitely looking a lot better.”

Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season. With him sidelined, the Ravens have struggled to get consistent production from Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark.