OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The image that stood out the most in Wednesday's organized team activity happened off to the side, a long pass away from where the rest of the team was practicing.
After catching a pass during his individual workout, Dennis Pitta leapt in the air and laid the ball over the goal post. It wasn't a Jimmy Graham dunk, but it was another positive sign for the Baltimore Ravens tight end whose recovery from a second hip surgery is under the microscope.
"Dennis is out there for about half the practice and he's doing a good job, too, so we're not counting him out at all," coach John Harbaugh said.
The next decision in Pitta's potential comeback comes in late July. The Ravens have to determine whether they allow Pitta to practice immediately at the start of training camp or place him on the physically unable to participate (PUP) list, which gives them the option of sitting him for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.
Pitta hasn't been made available to reporters during OTAs because he's injured, but he told the team's website last month that he was "optimistic" about playing this season. At the very least, he's maintained a good sense of humor. On his official Twitter account, Pitta lists himself as a professional athlete and hip specialist.
This has been a frustrating two seasons for Pitta. After catching a career-high 61 passes in the Ravens' 2012 Super Bowl season, Pitta has been limited to seven games in 2013 and 2014 because of two surgeries to his right hip.
The Ravens are prepared at tight end if Pitta can't play this season, drafting Maxx Williams in the first round and Nick Boyle in the fifth round. The rookies have looked solid in OTAs, and Boyle has better hands than expected, catching a couple of touchdowns Wednesday in a red zone drill. Baltimore also returns Crockett Gillmore, who added more muscle and now weighs 275 pounds.
But the return of Pitta would be significant boost for the Ravens and their passing game.
"He's going to continue to work and he'll come back," Gillmore said. "Obviously, he's put up great numbers for us and we're better with him."