Ravens place Pitta on IR-designated to return, re-sign Bajema

September 04, 2013 | Luke Jones

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More than a month after tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a devastating hip injury in the first week of training camp, the Ravens are officially leaving the door open for his return in 2013.

As expected, the team announced Wednesday morning that Pitta was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return after it was initially feared that he would be lost for the entire season. Baltimore re-signed veteran tight end Billy Bajema to take Pitta’s place on the 53-man roster a day before the Ravens’ season-opening game in Denver.

Pitta suffered a fractured and dislocated hip on July 27 and underwent surgery immediately. An MRI later revealed the fourth-year tight end hadn’t suffered any ligament or cartilage damage to the hip area, leaving open some chance of him returning later this season.

“I would love to play this season,” Pitta told the team’s official website last week. “I think there’s a possibility of me coming back. There’s also the possibility that I won’t be back until next season. I’m prepared for both decisions. Right now, I’m taking it day-to-day and doing everything they allow me to do. I’m getting stronger every day.”

The designation would allow Pitta to return to practice after the first six weeks of the regular season and to game action after the first eight weeks, but he is not expected to be ready that soon as many medical experts have described his type of injury as needing a minimum of three to four months of recovery time in the most optimistic cases.

Teams were not allowed to use the return designation until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, meaning the Ravens were required to carry Pitta on their 53-man roster through final cuts on Aug. 31. Each team is allowed to use the IR exemption once and cannot recover the privilege to use it on anyone else should the injured player be unable to make it back to the field.

“You’ve got to weigh that, but you can’t predict and deal in hypotheticals,” said Harbaugh last week. “Dennis is a great player in our opinion, and this is an opportunity that seems like it might make sense for him.”

Bajema served as the No. 3 tight end behind Pitta and Ed Dickson last year and is regarded as a strong blocker and special-teams contributor who will back up Dickson and veteran newcomer Dallas Clark in 2013.