Last week, at the end of a day of organized team activities, Dennis Pitta was asked how this year compared to last, when the specter of a potentially career-ending injury hung over his long-shot comeback attempt.
The Ravens tight end, healthy and happy, had grown so accustomed to questions about his oft-injured hip, he'd come to appreciate the days without.
"It feels very different," he said on May 25. "I am not getting as many questions about my hip; that is one [difference]. I feel good. I got to have a full offseason of just normal preparation. It feels good. Feeling healthy."
Eight days later, Pitta, 31, played what is expected to be his last in the NFL. Pitta reinjured his right hip during OTAs Friday, the team announced, and a source confirmed the hip is dislocated.
Pitta stretched for a catch during the closed practice, fell to the turf and was unable to put weight on his leg as he tried to get up.
An emotional Pitta was taken via ambulance to the hospital, where he underwent testing.
"This is incredibly disappointing, obviously for Dennis, and for the Ravens," general manager Ozzie Newsome said in a statement. "Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better."
Pitta's injury is the third of significance in as many days. On Thursday, cornerback Tavon Young tore his ACL while returning an interception during OTAs, a likely season-ending blow. The day before, wide receiver Michael Campanaro sprained his toe; the River Hill graduate is expected to be out "a while," coach John Harbaugh said.
Pitta led the Ravens and all NFL tight ends with 86 receptions and was third on the team with 729 receiving yards last season.
"Losing 2 brothers back to back days is hard," safety Eric Weddle tweeted Friday, after Pitta's injury was announced. "Never take for granted the time we get with our teammates!!! Gonna miss u bro."
Pitta missed all of the 2015 season while recovering from a fractured and dislocated right hip, his second such injury. Pitta first was hurt during a training camp collision before the 2013 season, and reinjured his right hip on a noncontact play during a 2014 game against the Cleveland Browns. He practiced with the Ravens for three weeks the following season, but wasn't cleared to return to game action until 2016.
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After playing in all 16 games last year and starting 12, Pitta in March agreed to a $2.5 million pay cut each of the next two seasons to help his chances of remaining with the team, which drafted him in 2010. Now the focus will turn to who might replace him this year and beyond.
The Ravens have five other tight ends on their roster, but Benjamin Watson is 36 and recovering from a torn Achilles tendon; Maxx Williams has yet to return from knee surgery that Harbaugh said never had been performed on a football player; and Darren Waller, a converted wide receiver, has been out with an undisclosed injury. Crockett Gillmore and Nick Boyle, while healthy, have a combined 75 career receptions.
Over six seasons with the Ravens, Pitta has played in 66 games, making 224 catches for 2,098 yards and 13 touchdowns, totals surpassed among tight ends in franchise history by only Todd Heap. Before the start of last season, Pitta said he considered himself fortunate to have had another chance to play. As he worked toward a comeback, he consulted with six doctors, team officials and family members. His wife, especially, he acknowledged, was nervous about the possibility of another injury.
"I think the second time I dislocated my hip was one of those instances where I thought, 'Man, I don't think I'll be back out there,' " he told reporters in September. "For a long time after, I didn't know how I would recover having done that twice."
Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.