Pitta's status comes as no surprise entering training camp

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Anyone surprised by the news of Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta’s status for the start of training camp shouldn’t be.
Even before The Sun reported the 30-year-old is expected to be placed on the physically unable to perform list, all signs had pointed to that reality throughout the offseason and spring.
The Ravens made no secret in preparing for life without Pitta by adding two tight ends — second-rounder Maxx Williams and Nick Boyle in the fifth round — in this year’s draft after they had selected Crockett Gillmore in the third round last year. And though Pitta had done some individual work — catching passes and running routes — during voluntary organized team activities in the spring, his full clearance never appeared imminent.
Pitta will initially be placed on the active PUP list during training camp — which allows a player to return to practice at any point — before he could then be moved to the reserve PUP list for the start of the regular season. Reserve PUP allows a player not to count against the 53-man roster limit, but that player is ineligible to return until after the first six weeks of the regular season.
Whether even that will happen remains to be seen after Pitta suffered two serious right hip injuries in a 14-month period, the second coming in Cleveland on Sept. 21, 2014. The innocent nature in which Pitta re-injured the hip — catching a short Joe Flacco pass and trying to turn upfield without being touched — immediately cast doubt over whether the 2010 fourth-round pick would ever play again.
“He’s going to have to be cleared by the doctors, and No. 2, he’s going to have to decide he wants to play,” head coach John Harbaugh said during last month’s mandatory minicamp. “Obviously, there will be some risk involved. The first thing hasn’t happened yet. He hasn’t been cleared by the doctors. He has been going through — as you saw before — the individual part of [voluntary] practice.
“In minicamp, unless you’re cleared, you can’t come out to practice. I don’t know if that’s a rule or a policy, but that’s the way it goes. Until he gets cleared by the doctors, he won’t be able to practice, and we’ll just have to see where that goes from here.”
Because Pitta’s $4 million base salary is guaranteed for the 2015 season, the Ravens lose nothing by allowing him to continue strengthening the hip in hopes of an eventual return. Confident after Pitta returned late in the 2013 season from the first injury and receiving assurances from doctors that he was at no greater risk to hurt the hip again, general manager Ozzie Newsome signed Pitta to a five-year, $32 million contract with $16 million guaranteed last year.
His $5 million base salary for 2016 is not guaranteed, meaning the Ravens could cut him after this season and would only have to deal with the dead money from the remaining prorated portion of his $11 signing bonus on the salary cap. This would leave $6.6 million in dead money on next year’s cap if he were to be released next offseason.
With Pitta’s future remaining cloudy, Gillmore and Williams are expected to compete for the starting tight end job this summer.
In his five-year career, Pitta has caught 138 passes for 1,369 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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