The Baltimore Ravens didn't make it through the first weekend of camp without a major injury. Dennis Pitta, their receiving tight end, will miss the rest of camp after dislocating his hip, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
A dislocated hip is an unusual and painful injury for any player. For a player like Pitta, this is worrisome given his need for stability and lateral motion. Any lingering problem with the soft tissue will cause both pain and instability that will make it tough for him to function, not to mention the risk of recurrence.
How much damage was done will determine how long Pitta will be out. The Ravens announced that Pitta would miss at least through the first week, but until they get a better handle on the associated soft tissue damage, it will be difficult to do anything beyond putting a very broad range on his recovery and return to play.
In most situations, a dislocation will take between six to 12 weeks to recover from, though again, it's too early to tell in regard to Pitta specifically. More tests are likely to determine the course of this and whether surgery may be necessary. It is normally not a surgical fix, instead relying on time and rehab to strengthen the area and add stability as it heals.
Unlike the shoulder, the hip is held in place by large, strong muscles as well as other structural elements. Once the dislocation is reduced (popped back into place), the worry goes from the immediate and acute to what damage was done. Obviously, ligaments and tendons, plus the labrum, can be stretched or even ruptured when the head of the femur comes out of place.
Several NFL and college players have had similar injuries. The most recent was to Bryan Bulaga, the Packers offensive lineman. Bulaga missed the second half of the season after dislocating his hip during a game, though he has made a full recovery and is expected to start for the Packers this season. Another lineman, David Diehl, had a similar injury and recovery.
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley injured his hip in last season's BCS National Championship Game but has made a full recovery. None of these injuries are very instructive because most were at the end of seasons, which had led many to think there was a fatigue element to this kind of injury. Tired muscles do not hold things in as well.
With Pitta's injury happening before he had much of a chance to get tired, that wouldn't appear to be the case this time out.
The Ravens will transfer the workload to Ed Dickson, but Pitta showed last year that he was the clear favorite for targeting (94 targets vs. 33 for Dickson.) We'll have to see if Joe Flacco finds a second tight end out of the candidates there or shifts to more throws to the receivers or backs. If it's the latter, Ray Rice could move even higher on draft charts.
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