Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta forged his way into NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2013" with a breakout 61-catch, seven-touchdown campaign that peaked during Baltimore's Super Bowl run.
With Pitta lost for the year to a hip injury, the Ravens now look to Ed Dickson to fill his shoes in 2013. Pitta's chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco won't be duplicated, but Dickson is being given every shot to produce. Matt Vensel of The Baltimore Sun reported Dickson is being used as a Pitta-esque, pass-catching "move" tight end. Meanwhile, the recently signed Visanthe Shiancoe is playing Dickson's role from last season: Less outside looks and more in-line blocking.
Dickson earned solid reviews in practice this week, making several tough grabs. Dickson had just 21 catches last season, but he handled 16 percent of Baltimore's targets and accounted for 20 percent of their receiving touchdowns in 2011, per ProFootballFocus. He's being counted on for more than that in 2013, especially in the red zone.
"Ed's talented," coach John Harbaugh told Comcast SportsNet Baltimore. "I'm glad he's going to get an opportunity."
The Ravens only can hope this works. Dickson typically was a hand-in-the-dirt guy last season. Shiancoe was a capable receiver during his days with the Minnesota Vikings, but he's never been known as a pass blocker. We wouldn't be surprised to see him shave away at some of Dickson's targets, but only if he can regain his old form. We're still not sold on Shiancoe as a viable contributor in 2013.