Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Camp injury: TE Dennis Pitta (dislocated and fractured hip, out for season)
The spotlight is now on tight ends Ed Dickson and veteran Visanthe Shiancoe, but mostly Dickson, the presumed starter with Pitta on the shelf. A former third-round pick out of Oregon in 2010, Dickson has the size (6'4" and 255 pounds) you want in an in-line blocking tight end, but his role in the passing game is about to expand exponentially.
Despite catching 54 passes for 528 yards and five scores as a second-year player in 2011, Dickson saw his receiving role reduced to a line of 21/225/0 in 2012. Pitta was a big reason for that, as the starting tight end caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven scores during a breakout 2012 season. He was also one of Joe Flacco's main targets in the postseason, when he hauled in 14 more catches with three touchdowns.
Usage was one culprit for the shift in numbers.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Pitta ran 523 pass routes over 848 total snaps in 2012 (including postseason), while Dickson received just 249 over 695. The year prior, Dickson ran 518 routes while Pitta was relegated to backup duty (344 routes). Inconsistency and an early-season shoulder injury likely contributed to Dickson losing his hold on the majority of the passing opportunities.
With Pitta now lost for the 2013 season, Dickson will be expected to resume his role as a primary pass-catcher. He's shown in the past that he's capable of producing in the passing game, mostly as an underneath safety blanket.
In his first practice with Pitta out, Dickson impressed with a touchdown catch from Flacco, per Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun. He'll need to continue impressing for the Ravens to feel comfortable about their tight end position.