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Ravens remain hopeful that Dennis Pitta will play Sunday

Tight end saw hip specialist Tuesday, is on track to return

By Jeff Zrebiec

The Baltimore Sun

3:00 PM EST, December 4, 2013

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Dennis Pitta saw a hip specialist Tuesday in New York, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh remains hopeful that the tight end will make his 2013 regular-season debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium.

Pitta, who dislocated and fractured his right hip on the first full-padded practice of training camp, practiced again Wednesday. It’s expected that he will ramp up his activity throughout the week to put him in line to face the Vikings, barring any setbacks.

“It’s going to be a matter of how ready he is to play and healthy he is to play,” Harbaugh said. “[With] something like that, all the doctors are going to be involved. … Those things are important things. The health of the player comes first. That’s the No. 1 thing, his ability to withstand the rigors of a game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Pitta, who had surgery July 27, returned to practice on Nov. 27. However, before this week, he’s mostly been limited to individual work and he didn’t do much at all last week because the Ravens had little practice time ahead of their Thursday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"It's been tough,” Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Two weeks ago when we were getting ready for the Jets, he was able to run some individual routes but nothing more than that. This past week, he wasn't really able to do anything besides what he would normally do on a rehab week. This week, we'll see. I'm sure he probably still feels a little weak and there are probably some things he has to feel his way through. He hasn't run a full-speed route against defenders in a long time, so you have to allow some adjustment time for that, so we'll see how it goes."

The Ravens have until Dec. 11 to officially activate Pitta to the 53-man roster, otherwise he’ll go to season-ending injured reserve. At this point, it’s seems like only a matter-of-time before he’s activated.

For Pitta to be eligible to play Sunday, the Ravens need to activate him by 4 p.m. Saturday. Harbaugh said he expects that a decision won’t be made until later this week because the Ravens want to see how his hip responds to increased activity in practice.

Flacco is certainly looking forward to getting him back. Pitta, 28, caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns in 16 regular-season games last year and then had 14 catches for 163 yards and three touchdowns in four postseason games.

“He's got good body presence and a lot of things that he does well on his routes that gives you a good indicator,” Flacco said. “He catches the ball. He runs well. He separates. There's a lot of things that he does well. I think, overall, he just helps your whole offense."