Could Pitta really return this season?

It was just a couple of weeks ago when some speculated that Dennis Pitta's dislocated hip could be a career-threatening injury. Now, the Ravens haven't ruled out the tight end from playing this season.

Sure, it's a long shot. No one in the Ravens organization would likely bet big money on it. But, as coach John Harbaugh put it, there is "some hope."

It's getting to the point where you can't ever rule out any Ravens player when they're injured. Last offseason, it was originally reported that linebacker Terrell Suggs was out for the season after tearing his Achilles tendon. But he was back on the field by the seventh game of the season. Last October, it was believed that linebacker Ray Lewis' torn triceps was a season-ending injury. But he was back on the field after missing 10 weeks.

Everyone, including the Ravens themselves, thought Pitta was done for the year. On July 28, a reporter asked Harbaugh if there was a chance Pitta could return this season. “I would say no at this point," Harbaugh replied. "He’s out for the year.”

What changed? Pitta suffered no ligament or cartilage damage. That's the reason the Ravens haven't placed him on injured reserve, which would end his season. The only negative in waiting is the Ravens don't free up a roster spot for the remainder of the preseason, and in the big picture, that's nothing.

The Ravens will see how the bone heals over the first five weeks since the injury and then make a decision before the Sept. 5 regular-season opener. If the news is encouraging, the Ravens can put Pitta on the injured reserve-designated to return list. He would be eligible to play eight weeks after receiving that designation.

Tight end quickly went from a position of depth to an area of concern in training camp. In addition to Pitta's injury, there's a chance the Ravens could be without his replacement, Ed Dickson (hamstring), for the season opener. Baltimore is trying to fill the void by signing Dallas Clark and Visanthe Shiancoe, two tight ends who were hot commodities on fantasy teams four years ago but were unsigned when training camps opened.

This is why it would be a big boost for the Ravens to get Pitta back for the playoffs. In the 2012 postseason, Pitta was the Ravens' second-leading receiver with 14 catches, good for 163 yards and three touchdowns.

Still, no one should expect Pitta to return this season. But, given the Ravens' history, no one should be shocked if he does.