Visanthe Shiancoe has just two-and-a-half training camp practices with the Ravens under the belt, but early indications are that the veteran tight end could play a role similar to the one that Ed Dickson played last year.
Shiancoe, a former Morgan State standout, is trying to learn the Ravens' offense as quickly as possible and develop a rapport with quarterback Joe Flacco, who stayed on the field after being dismissed Monday to chat and toss extra passes to his new tight end. Shiancoe has gotten snaps with the first-team offense, particularly when they used two-tight-end sets with Dickson. He has caught a few balls for short gains, but he hasn’t yet done anything particularly awe-inspiring.
Still, while we are still a long way away from Week 1, we are getting an idea of what Shiancoe’s role could be.
Last year, Dickson was sometimes flexed into the slot or occasionally split out wide, but he more often was a traditional in-line tight end with his hand on the ground. Dennis Pitta, who is lost for 2013 with a hip injury, was more of a receiving tight end and spent a lot of time lined up like a receiver. With Pitta gone, Dickson has been taking on that role.
Shiancoe, meanwhile, appears to have stepped into the role that was intended for Dickson, though Shiancoe has also lined up away from the offensive line in spread formations at times.
It makes sense because Shiancoe isn’t exactly known as a blocking tight end. He has been decent in pass protection, but he hasn’t exactly pushed people off the line of scrimmage in the running game. He has four seasons with 36 or more catches and he has scored 27 receiving touchdowns, including a career-high 11 while playing with the great Brett Favre in 2011 with the Minnesota Vikings. The hope is that Shiancoe will be able to help the Ravens in the red zone.
It looks like the Ravens plan to give Shiancoe every opportunity to earn a significant role this season. But coach John Harbaugh praised former Maryland tight end Matt Furstenburg on Wednesday, and Billy Bajema has also gotten some snaps with the first-team offense in Pitta’s absence, so Shiancoe will have some competition.