By Nick Shook
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Dennis Pitta‘s latest hip injury could be his last.
The tight end’s career is in jeopardy after suffering a dislocated hip during Ravens OTAs, the third he’s suffered in his career, NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported, according to a source informed of the diagnosis. Doctors are working to put the hip back in the socket, whether through manual manipulation or surgery, Garafolo added.
Pitta’s injury was non-contact, according to the team.
No long-term decision has been made, but if he does indeed retire, Pitta will be remembered as one of the league’s leaders in perseverance. Drafted in 2010 out of Brigham Young, Pitta spent his rookie season as an understudy to Todd Heap before becoming his successor in tandem with Ed Dickson in 2011 and 2012. Pitta gave up an inch in height to Heap but functioned much like his predecessor, displaying good hands and athleticism to make the big play at a time when tight ends were starting to be used more unconventionally.
Unfortunately for Pitta, who missed 41 games due to hip injuries since 2013, longevity seemed to be his golden goose. It wasn’t without great effort though, as the tight end twice worked through surgery and rehab to return to the field. Each time, he returned to make an impact, catching 20 passes for 169 yards in the final four games of 2013, and leading the team in receptions with a career-high 86 for 729 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in all 16 games in 2016 after missing all of 2015.
Pitta signed a five-year, $32 million contract in 2014, a deal that seemed to be a wise investment for Baltimore at the time. It likely would have proven more fruitful, too, if Pitta could have stayed healthy. Unfortunately for both sides, one of the first associated phrases that will come to mind when hearing Pitta’s name will be hip injuries. He already knows it himself, listing himself as a “hip specialist” in his Twitter bio.
“Dennis is one of the great Ravens, and he has done everything he can to make our team better,” Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome said in a statement Friday.
The statement was released before the severity of Pitta’s injury was known, but it already had an air of finality to it. Considering his medical history, it was fair to wonder if this would be it for him. If it is, he’ll have plenty of which to be proud: 2,098 yards receiving on 224 catches, 13 touchdowns, 2016 AFC Comeback Player of the Year, a Super Bowl XLVII ring and a repeated demonstration of a will that is nearly impossible to break.