The Ravens are strongly leaning toward placing injured starting tight end Dennis Pitta on the injured reserve-designated to return list next week.

Pitta hasn't been ruled out for the season after undergoing surgery to repair his dislocated, fractured right hip this month.


Under league rules, the Ravens can't use the designation until Tuesday next week and Pitta would have to remain on the active roster until then when he could be placed on the official transaction personnel notice filed with the league office.

That means the Ravens will have to include Pitta when they cut their roster down to the NFL limit of 53 players by a Saturday night league deadline prior to placing him on injured reserve next week. At that point, they can sign another player.

"I would say things are progressing favorably toward that," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He's doing a really good job."

The Ravens used the short-term injured reserve option successfully last season when since-retired middle linebacker Ray Lewis tore his triceps against the Dallas Cowboys with the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year returning in time for the postseason and Super Bowl run.

Pitta had a bone fragment removed from his hip, but didn't sustain any ligament or cartilage damage. That's the primary reason why the Ravens are holding out some hope of him potentially making a late-season return.

"He's working really hard," Harbaugh said. "He's had no setbacks, and there's optimism."

Harbaugh said the decision the team is making has to consider the health of other players, but says it's worth it to leave open the possibility of perhaps getting Pitta back late in the season.

"You've got to weigh that, but you can't predict and deal in hypotheticals," Harbaugh said. "Dennis is a great player. And this is an opportunity that seems like it might make sense."

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