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The Ravens received good news in the form of tight end Dennis Pitta beginning to practice this week, but they’ll have to wait at least one more week to see his return to game action.
Needing to place Pitta on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday to make him eligible to play against the New York jets, the Ravens did not make a move as Pitta remains on injured reserve with the designation to return, a team official confirmed shortly after the deadline. The fourth-year tight end returned to practice on Wednesday, which triggered the start of a 21-day window in which he can practice before the Ravens may put him on the active roster.
Baltimore is allowed to activate him sooner, but most expected Pitta would need more practice time to test his surgically-repaired hip after he suffered a dislocation and fracture on July 27. The injury was initially feared to cost him the entire season, but no cartilage or ligament damage was discovered during surgery.
“There is always a chance,” said coach John Harbaugh about Pitta’s status against the Jets. “I don’t want to say ‘no,’ and then he plays. I don’t want to say ‘yes,’ and then he doesn’t play. Then you guys think I’m misleading you somewhere. There is always a possibility of that.”
The Ravens must now determine whether Pitta will be ready to play in their Thanksgiving night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are 4-6 and fighting for the No. 6 seed despite an 0-4 start. Should Pitta not play against Pittsburgh, the Ravens conclude a three-game homestand against Minnesota on Dec. 8.
Before taking part in his first practice Wednesday, Pitta reiterated the need for him to take it slow in getting back to football activity and making sure his hip is sound and ready to withstand contact after experiencing such a serious injury less than four months ago.
“You always have that concern that you don’t want to come back too soon and put yourself at risk,” Pitta said. “We’ll be smart with it and take it day by day and see how it goes.”
While the Ravens did not make any roster moves on Saturday, the Jets downgraded wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) and linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) to out after they were listed as doubtful on Friday. Kerley is New York’s leading receiver this season with 28 receptions, 347 receiving yards, and two touchdowns.