The first thing most athletes say they need to overcome when returning from a major injury is the mental hurdle. The physical hurdle has been taken care of by surgery and/or rehab.
Trusting a knee, an arm, a back, a hip - that all comes with time and evidence, seeing that the injury is in the past and health has been attained.
Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is an outlier in that department. He isn’t even five months removed from a dislocated and fractured hip that required surgery, and says he feels no lingering issues after appearing in his first game of the season. Pitta also claims he wasn’t favoring it at all, and his diving catch in the contest seems to back that up.
“I’m doing good. It feels really good. I don’t really have any soreness,” Pitta said. “I felt good throughout the game and I didn’t really have to think about it, which is good, and I’m feeling strong. ...
“I didn’t really know what to think at the time (of the injury in July) and I didn’t really know what the future held. All I could focus on was rehabbing and trying to strengthen it and see where I would end up. And I’m fortunate to be in a pretty good spot now.”
And the Ravens feel like they’re in just as good of a spot following three straight wins, especially with Pitta back in the offense.
Coach John Harbaugh said there were no physical issues for Pitta after Sunday and tailback Ray Rice was glad to have the talented tight end back in the mix.
“It’s huge. I had a hip (injury) this year, so when Dennis came back, it was more like, ‘Oh man, I can’t wait to see him get that first catch and first everything,’ ” Rice said. “But I’m glad he was able to come back and feel what it was like, because me and him, he is kind of like my counterpart. He was out, and I was playing. I was playing through a hip, so I was kind of coaching him like, ‘Hey man, when you come back, you’re going to feel this, you might feel that, you might feel this, but here is this.’
“He has definitely answered the call, and it is good to see him back recovered and being the old Dennis Pitta. Trust me, when he dove for that pass ... Every time he caught it, I was just happy for him, because the guy goes down in training camp. You just don’t want to see that happen to anybody. I don’t care who you are, what you are, you never want to see a guy get hurt. But to have your own teammate, a guy whose career is going up - it’s only going to get better from here - you want him out there with you. I’m just glad now that we have him for this stretch.”
Pitta is just as thrilled to be back to help the Ravens attempt a final push for a playoff berth after sitting out the first 12 contests of the year.
“It means a lot. I’ve been working hard all year to be able to get back in this position and to help our team make this last run,” Pitta said. “It’s special for me to be able to take the field with those guys, having gone through all that I’ve gone through, all that they’ve gone through this year - the highs and the lows - and now we can make a playoff push, and hopefully do some damage when we get in the postseason.”
Update: The Ravens had full participation at practice Friday, as linebacker Elvis Dumervil (sprained ankle) returned after missing Thursday’s session. He was a limited participant along with safety Brynden Trawick (ankle) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs).