WASHINGTON -- Doctors at MedStar Washington Hospital Center say that since U.S. Rep Steve Scalise arrived there after he was shot in the hip Wednesday morning, "excellent" recovery is now a "good" possibility and that they expect him to walk again.

At the hospital, though, he remains sedated and is only at the beginning stages of what will be a long recovery.

"I think that an excellent recovery is a good possibility," said Dr. Jack Sava, director of the MedStar trauma center.

The encouraging words came with the knowledge that the outcome could have been very different.

"I would say that when he arrived he was in critical condition with an imminent risk of death," Sava told reporters Friday afternoon.

Doctors said that the rifle round that entered his left hip traveled through his body before shattering bones and damaging internal organs and blood vessels.

Know that, Scalise's surgeon tried to clear up confusion about reports of his condition during those early hours.

"I was surprised by some of the reports also," Sava said. "I would encourage you to talk to your military-medical colleagues about what it means to be shot with a high-velocity rifle in the hip region, because most of us would not even think to consider that a benign wound."

But in the past three days, it's clear Scalise has made progress.

"I think that his risk of death right now is substantially lower than when you came in," Sava said. "And certainly whatever you think of the world critical, he was as critical as you can be when he came in. There's no controversy about word choice there."

Scalise will need more surgeries, some of which could take place as early as this weekend.

His sedation level has been lowered enough to where he has been able to communicate with doctors and his family.

Scalise's wife, Jennifer, released a letter thanking people for their prayers.

"Most importantly, we are forever grateful for the heroism os Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, who saved the lives of everyone at the baseball field that morning, including Steve," Jennifer Scalise wrote. "Crystal and David have been family to us for years, and we ask that you continue to pray for their full recovery."