Ravens starting tight end Ed Dickson exited the training room and returned to the practice field on a limited basis Monday, taking a large step toward possibly being ready for the season-opener against the Denver Broncos.
This marked the first time Dickson practiced since slightly tearing his right hamstring two weeks ago as he participated in individual drills and ran routes on the side. Dickson was careful not to push it too hard to avoid aggravating the leg injury.
Dickson remains upbeat about his prospects of playing in Denver on Sept. 5, a rematch of the Ravens' AFC divisional-round double-overtime win.
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"I always feel good about my chances," Dickson said. "When you're dealing with an injury, it's tough because dealing with a muscle pull you don't want to come back too soon and aggravate it.
"It went pretty good. Actually, I didn't have any soreness. When you first get out there, you want to test it a little bit and open it up, but they told me to be smart. I'm going by the rules and making sure I don't aggravate it."
Dickson is the primary replacement for injured tight end Dennis Pitta, who might miss the entire season with a fractured, dislocated right hip that required surgery.
By returning to practice two weeks from the opener, Dickson is regarded as making solid progress.
"It's good, obviously," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "They're kind of bringing him along slowly. Obviously, it shows that he's making rapid improvement and we're certainly glad to get him out there and get him some work."
Dickson didn't declare himself a lock to make it back by the Denver game, but is definitely upbeat about his chances.
"I feel like I'm ready to get out there and do the things I need to do," Dickson said. "Practice is just as hard as the game. If I can get to where I practice fully, I feel like I'll be able to go. I couldn't said I can't, I can't say I'm going to be able to go. I'm just training my hardest to get out there Week One."
Dickson declared himself out for Thursday night's preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium.
"I would think there's zero chance of that," Dickson said. "I can say that much."
As for the preseason finale at the St. Louis Rams, Dickson said he "might test the waters."
Confined to the training room for the past few weeks, Dickson was simply happy to resume football activities.
"Getting these pads on, being out there with your boys, it's encouraging just to not be in the treatment center," Dickson said. "I've been looking out the window like a little kid on punishment. It makes me work even harder knowing I'm a step closer to getting back. I hate sitting on the sideline."