NFL notes: Ravens' Dennis Pitta returns to practice
Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta returned to the practice field Wednesday, nearly four months after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured and dislocated hip.
The injury occurred on the second day of training camp, when Pitta and safety James Ihedigbo collided in the end zone in pursuit of a high pass. Pitta landed awkwardly on his side and had to be carted off the field.
The former BYU player underwent surgery that night and was subsequently placed on injured reserve with a designated-to-return tag. Although it initially appeared Pitta was too hurt to play this season, he worked diligently in the training room and his efforts paid off when he joined his teammates at practice.
"It feels awesome to be able to get back and be in meetings with the guys and hit the field a little bit," he said. "I feel great. I'm going to take it slow, though, and make sure I can kind of integrate myself back in."
The Ravens desperately miss Pitta, who had 69 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He topped that off with 14 receptions in the postseason, including a touchdown catch in Baltimore's 34-31 win over San Francisco in the Super Bowl.
"Nothing against our receivers, tight ends or anybody, but anytime you lose a good player that's been a big part of what we've done around here, you miss something," quarterback Joe Flacco said.
The Ravens (4-6) own the league's 30th-ranked offense, and their tight ends have only three touchdown catches.
Around the league
Bears • Quarterback Jay Cutler is out of a hard cast and wearing a small brace on his injured left ankle. Coach Marc Trestman said that Cutler remains week to week with a high ankle sprain. The Bears have ruled him out for Sunday's game at St. Louis.
49ers • Linebacker Ahmad Brooks was fined $15,570 by the NFL for his hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees last Sunday. That is the standard amount for such hits to the head and neck area. Brooks vehemently argued against the penalty, saying he didn't use his hands or helmet and called it a "bear hug."
Washington • Receiver Leonard Hankerson is done for the season with a left knee injury. Coach Mike Shanahan said that Hankerson will have surgery on a damaged lateral collateral ligament and will likely require "a few months" of recovery.
Vikings • Christian Ponder will be the starting quarterback at Green Bay. Ponder's status was in question after he had three more turnovers last week in a loss at Seattle and he was pulled for Matt Cassel. But coach Leslie Frazier said he believes Ponder gives the Vikings the best chance to beat the Packers.
Raiders • Oakland placed first-round pick D.J. Hayden on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday after he underwent sports hernia surgery on his injured groin.
Week 12 schedule
New Orleans at Atlanta, 6:25 p.m., NFL Network
Minnesota at Green Bay, 11 a.m., Ch. 13
Jacksonville at Houston, 11 a.m.
San Diego at Kansas City, 11 a.m.
Chicago at St. Louis, 11 a.m.
Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 11 a.m.
Tampa Bay at Detroit, 11 a.m.
N.Y. Jets at Baltimore, 11 a.m.
Carolina at Miami, 11 a.m.
Tennessee at Oakland, 2 p.m.
Indianapolis at Arizona, 2 p.m., Ch. 2
Dallas at N.Y. Giants, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13
Denver at New England, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5
Open • Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle
San Francisco at Washington, 6:40 p.m., ESPN