Just when it finally appeared that Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta’s hip problems were in the past, he suffered a setback that could lead to his retirement.
As suspected, doctors confirmed Ravens TE Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip at OTAs today, source says. Tough news.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 2, 2017
When Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome issued this ominous statement on Friday, prior to the injury being confirmed, it was clear that the Ravens had legitimate fears about the health of a player who already had suffered two serious hip injuries in his career previously.
Here’s how the non-contact injury occurred in Friday’s OTA session, according to the team’s website:
Pitta stretched to make a catch, just like he’s done a million times. He fell to the turf and tried to get up, but couldn’t put weight on his leg.
The news comes one day after cornerback Tavon Young suffered a torn ACL. The team also has lost receiver Steve Smith Sr. and linebacker Zach Orr to retirement, offensive tackle Ricky Wagner to free agency and running back Kenneth Dixon to a four-game suspension this offseason.
Pitta, who turns 32 at the end of the month, returned last season after missing almost two full years and turned in an incredible season, catching a career-high 86 passes (which led all NFL tight ends) for 729 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps most notably, he played all 16 regular-season games and appeared to be back on the road to thriving after suffering multiple hip injuries.
The first one came early in training camp of 2013, when Pitta suffered a dislocated and fractured hip, forcing him to miss most of the entire season. He returned toward the end of 2013, looking good and earning a five-year, $32 million contract extension the following offseason. But trouble struck again when Pitta aggravated the hip, suffering another dislocation early in the season against the Browns.
Doctors told him it was not safe to resume his career in 2015, and it required some serious soul-searching before his return, but he came back knowing all the risks and turned in the finest statistical season of his career in 2016. And yet had to take a $2.5 million pay cut — his second salary reduction in as many years — just to return this season. Some of that money the Ravens saved went to signing free agents, such as safety Tony Jefferson.
Just a few days ago, Pitta spoke about how he had put his injuries behind him and no longer seemed worried about what might happen.
“Yes, it feels very different,” Pitta told Baltimoreravens.com. “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.”
Will this injury force his career to end? We don’t yet know, but it’s not looking promising for Pitta to turn in another incredible comeback.
Who will be catching passes for the Ravens this season? The team already has lost Smith and has a lot of unknowns at tight end. Benjamin Watson remains on the roster despite turning 37 and coming off an Achilles injury. Maxx Williams and Crockett Gillmore are promising players but are also coming off injuries of their own. Nick Boyle and Darren Waller are returning from four- and 10-game suspensions, respectively.
Right now, the Ravens are down to two healthy tight ends — Boyle and Gillmore. Watson and Williams are expected to return for training camp, but Waller has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury. The Ravens had the chance to draft Alabama’s O.J. Howard, roundly viewed as the top tight end in the 2017 class, but opted to select his college teammate, Bama corner Marlon Humphrey.
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