Harbaugh “pretty hopeful” Pitta can play Sunday, J. Smith cleared (update)

Tight end Dennis Pitta appears to be nearing a return to the field, and this afternoon, coach John Harbaugh indicated that could happen Sunday.

After two weeks of only going far as, “We’ll see,” Harbaugh was a bit more upbeat about Pitta’s progress in his return from hip surgery.

“I’m pretty hopeful that he can play on Sunday,” Harbaugh said. “... I think it’s going to be just a matter of how ready he is to play and how healthy he is to play. So something like that, he’s going to be involved, all the doctors are going to be involved. ...

“Those things are important things. Health of the player comes first. That’s the No. 1 thing - his ability to withstand the rigors of the game. I think we’re on track that way, but we’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Pitta hasn’t played this season after dislocating and fracturing his hip in a collision during the first week of training camp. He was placed on injured reserve/designated to return and is eligible to be activated at any time.

Going into camp, the Ravens expected Pitta to be a big part of the offense one year after he set career highs with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.

“He’s just a good player. He’s got good body presence,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “He catches the ball, he runs well, he separated. There’s a lot of things he does well. I think overall, he just helps your whole offense.”

In other positive injury-related news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was cleared through the concussion protocol, according to Harbaugh. Smith was involved in the ugly head-to-head collision with Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell with less than two minutes to go last Thursday.

Harbaugh is glad that Smith will likely be playing Sunday.

“Well, it is important,” Harbaugh said. “Jimmy is becoming one of the top corners in the National Football League by the way he’s playing. The numbers bear that out and the film bears it out. So it’s important to our football team and I really like the way he’s playing.”

Additionally, linebacker Jameel McClain was elected the Ravens’ recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award this week, as voted by his teammates. McClain returned to the field on Oct. 20 at Pittsburgh after missing 10 months because of a spinal cord contusion suffered at Washington on Dec. 9, 2012.

McClain said at least one doctor told him he wouldn’t play football again, so his return was nothing short of remarkable. Cornerback Lardarius Webb was also in the running for the award after working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in 2012.

“It was an honor. It was an honor to get it from them,” McClain said, “Obviously, Lardarius was up for it, too, and he’s been through a lot, too, just like me. So it was two deserving people and to get elected by them was great. But if you ask me, it should be me and Webby.”

Update: Linebacker Elvis Dumervil and safety Brynden Trawick both sat out practice Wednesday because of ankle injuries.

Defensive end Chris Canty (shoulder), cornerback Asa Jackson (thigh), Smith (concussion), wideout Brandon Stokley (knee) and Webb (abs) were limited participants.