With starting tight end Dennis Pitta now sidelined indefinitely with a dislocated hip suffered Saturday in practice, the Ravens will rely even more heavily upon Ed Dickson.
Saddened by the injury to his friend, Dickson expressed determination to increase his contribution as the new primary tight end along with a need to build timing with quarterback Joe Flacco.
"It's tough, it's tough," Dickson said. "You lose a brother like that, we're a 1-2 punch. He had a great season last year. Him and Joe's chemistry, I have to try to get to that level of him and Joe where they are. I will pick him up on my back. Everything I do in practice and anything I do in a game, I got to pick him up.
"He's a warrior, so he'll definitely be back. I know he's going to do treatmen and try to get bac kas soon as possible. He'll be back and probably better than ever. Injuries happen in this league, and it's just untimely that it happened in camp. He was going up there to make a play. I'll pick him up on my back and do everything I need to do."
Dickson is big and fast at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds. The 2010 third-round draft pick caught 124 passes for 1,557 yards and a dozen touchdowns at Oregon.
He started 11 games last season, catching 21 passes for 225 yards and no touchdowns while mostly operating as the blocking tight end as Pitta emerged as a big receiving threat with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.
Two seasons ago, Dickson caught a career-high 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns.
The injury to Pitta represents a major blow, though, for an offense that traded former Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in March following a contract dispute.
"I got a long camp," Dickson said. "I'm improving every day. I was gearing up anyway to go out
there and contribute as a leader and pick it up even more. We lost a great receiver in Anquan Boldin and we lost another great receiver in Dennis for a little bit."
The injury to Pitta in the first day of pads seemed to initially affect the intensity, which cranked up later in practice when center Gino Gradkowski and nose guard Terrence Cody squared off in a pair of brawls.
"Yeah, man, it's just a reality check," outside linebacker Pernell McPhee said. "This game is next man up. So, the next man up is Ed. We knew that could happen today and all of us got to come out and the next man has to step up to the plate. Ed is a good receiver, no doubt."