Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta broke his hand in practice today and will likely undergo surgery, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Harbaugh said that he hopes Pitta will be able to return for the September 10 season opener against the Cincinatti Bengals. The team will know more after Pitta's surgery.
Pitta, a young tight end who has shared a starting role with Ed Dickson, emerged, especially late in the year, as one of Flacco's favorite targets. In 2011, he caught 40 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns. In the post season, he notched on an additional 70 yards off of 7 catches, as well as a touchdown. While Pitta lacks the size and speed of Dickson, his sure-handedness and chemistry with Flacco make him a key contributor to the Ravens offense. He is also more valuable in the blocking game than Dickson.
In Pitta's absence, the Ravens will likely still run plays for both tight ends. The most likely candidate to see increased action is tight end Davon Drew, who was drafted by the Ravens in 2009, and spent the last two years on the practice squad. Drew practiced with the ones on Monday, taking Pitta's reps after Pitta left practice.