The reports on Saturday all said Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta would be out for the season after fracturing and dislocating his hip during practice and coach John Harbaugh confirmed it on Sunday.
“Dennis is out for the year,” Harbaugh said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “It’s the type of thing he’s not going to be able to come back from this year. There’s enough damage in there.”
The team’s move to sign veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe earlier in the day made it pretty obvious that Pitta was done, but Harbaugh’s announcement erases any chance that they’d put him on injured reserve with the option to return later in the year. Harbaugh said that he didn’t think the injury would interfere with Pitta’s ability to play in 2014. He didn’t say that it will certainly interfere with his expected contract as a free agent, but that’s a matter for the offseason.
For now, the Ravens will be focused on replacing Pitta’s expected production. Shiancoe will help as a blocker and fullback Vonta Leach may be on his way back to help on that front as well, but Ed Dickson will be expected to carry a heavier pass catching load. Dickson says he’s ready for the job.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Dickson said. “You lose a brother like that, we’re a 1-2 punch. He had a great season last year. Him and Joe [Flacco]’s chemistry, I have to try to get to that level of him and Joe where they are. I will pick him up on my back. Everything I do in practice and anything I do in a game, I got to pick him up.”
The Ravens have a lot of time to adjust to Pitta’s absence, something General Manager Ozzie Newsome stressed in an interview with Don Banks of SI.com about Pitta’s loss along with a reminder of other times the Ravens have adapted on the fly successfully during training camp. It doesn’t make Pitta’s loss any less painful, but it’s a reason not to panic in late July.