There have been talks that the Baltimore Ravens may be seeing a return to the field for injured tight end Dennis Pitta sooner rather than later, but I’m here to say: Curb your excitement, football fans.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has hinted at a mid-to-late November return for the 28-year-old pass-catching tight end, but is that too soon given the severity of his injury? A dislocated and fractured hip ended the career of former NFL running back Bo Jackson, and you have to wonder just how much this type of rare injury can affect Pitta’s athleticism going forward.
I don’t necessarily think he has to come back this season despite the tight end position being what it is for the Ravens. Dallas Clark has only caught 23 passes for 265 receiving yards and two scores, while Ed Dickson, his counterpart, has tallied seven catches and 93 yards. As bad as these numbers are and as valuable as Pitta was to this offense last season, I think it hinges on how the team performs over the next month of the season to warrant an earlier than expected return for the injured tight end.
Baltimore has a tough divisional game against the Cleveland Browns Nov. 3, following their bye week. It may sound funny saying that, but Cleveland possesses one of the best front sevens in all of football and gave the Ravens all they had in their Week 2 14-6 defeat at M&T Bank Stadium.
Next, the Ravens return to the friendly confines of Charm City and play the AFC North leaders in the Cincinnati Bengals. Following that marquee matchup, Baltimore travels to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. The month of November wraps up with two-straight home games against the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving night. Needless to say, the road ahead is tough and if the Ravens lose three of those five games, I suggest they just let Pitta heal up for next season.
Yes, Pitta played a huge part in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII run, but the ramifications of this injury and how it could affect his career long term have to be considered. Keep in mind, with Pitta missing a large portion of this season, and possibly all of it, he is also still looking for a contract extension when 2013 is over and it could be hard to snag as much money as he probably deserves due to his now apparent health concerns. Although, catching 61 balls for 669 yards and seven trips to the end zone in 2012 suggest he is worth the investment.
It also helps that he is quarterback Joe Flacco‘s best friend on and off the field. Their wives hang out together, the families share common interests, but most importantly, Flacco has the utmost confidence in Pitta in the red zone and on third down — both areas where the Ravens have lacked a legitimate threat so far this season.
According to WNST.net’s Ravens Insider Luke Jones, Pitta was seen catching balls from a jugs machine beginning as far back as Oct. 4. He also started to run on the treadmill several weeks ago, and has been working extensively to regain what he had lost over the last few months.
As encouraging as it sounds to possibly regain a valuable piece on this offense, you don’t want to risk injuring one of your most valuable assets if you’re the Ravens. Yes, I understand you play to win the game all the time, but there comes a time when you have to make sure that you aren’t actually jeopardizing not only the young man’s career, but your team’s success going forward. Pitta would be a nice add, but there’s no guarantee he won’t be a shell of what he was in 2012.