Asked specifically about Pitts’ recovery, Smith maintained multiple times that the team is going to be smart with its third-year tight end, but it’s an indication he should be ready by the opener.
“We fully anticipate everybody being ready to go Sept. 10,” Smith said prior to the team’s second OTA practice. “And so we’ll be smart.”
Pitts has not been spotted at either of the open voluntary OTA practices, and Smith declined to offer a more concrete timeline on Pitts’ return and whether he’ll be available for training camp.
He had knee surgery after suffering the injury in Atlanta’s win over the Chicago Bears on Nov. 20.
When Pitts was injured in November, Smith indicated then he wasn’t sure if Pitts would be ready for offseason workouts, but that it was “nothing that concerns us for real games in the season.”
Atlanta has been cautious with injuries under Smith, especially during the offseason and training camp. Receiver Drake London sat out most of last year’s training camp after being injured in the preseason opener vs. Detroit.
“We’re trying to be smart. We know we’re planning to play 20, 21 games,” Smith said Friday. “So when you do that, you need to be ready to go, peaking, ready to roll Sept. 10 and play our best football at the end of the year.
“So that goes into mind.”
Pitts, who also missed a game and was limited in others last season because of a hamstring injury prior to the season-ending injury, had 28 catches for 356 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games in 2022.
Pitts in 2021 became the second tight end in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards as a rookie, earning a Pro Bowl berth.