Ravens TE Pitta returns to practice, but future still cloudy

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta returned to the practice field Wednesday, hopeful he can rebound from a hip injury that's kept him sidelined since last year.

Pitta is on the physically unable to perform list. Baltimore has three weeks to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or season-ending injured reserve.

''Obviously this is an assessment period - for me, for the trainers, for the coaches - to see where we're at,'' Pitta said. ''This is just Day 1 of our journey.''

Still, he couldn't help smiling after finally putting his No. 88 jersey over a pair of shoulder pads.

''It's certainly great to be out there with my teammates,'' Pitta said. ''I'm encouraged how I felt today, but obviously I've got to shake a little bit of the rust off.''

Pitta had 61 catches for 669 yards in 2012 and scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl. But after dislocating his hip the following year in training camp, he missed the first 12 weeks of the season.

His 2014 season ended on Sept. 21, when he fractured and dislocated the same hip without being touched during a game at Cleveland.

Pitta has not played since, and there was speculation that his career was done after the second injury.

''The odds have been stacked against me pretty good twice now,'' he said. ''I didn't anticipate feeling this good at this point and being where I'm at. So I'm certainly pleased with that.''

His teammates were delighted to have Pitta on the field, for reasons that extend far beyond his potential ability to help them get back on track after a 1-5 start.

''It's definitely good to see him out there,'' quarterback Joe Flacco said. ''I think everybody appreciates seeing him in a uniform.''

The decision on whether to activate Pitta will come down to his health, the risk involved, his mental state and his effectiveness after missing all that time.

This day, though, was about him playing football again - even if was just a midweek practice.

''I'm happy for Dennis,'' coach John Harbaugh said. ''I'm just happy that he can get out here and do what he loves to do. Wherever it goes, we'll see. But I was really uplifted for him being out here.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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