When the Ravens signed veteran tight end Visanthe Shiancoe after Dennis Pitta suffered a season-ending fractured and dislocated hip, it was intended for a situation just like this one.
Shiancoe was added as the team's primary insurance policy at tight end in case anything happened to starter Ed Dickson.
Now, Dickson is sidelined for at least a week and probably longer with a slightly torn hamstring revealed Monday following a magnetic resonance imaging exam. Dickson could miss significant time during the preseason before returning for the Ravens' season opener against the Denver Broncos.
"I'm going to keep on building my building, brick by brick, keep working hard every day like I'm doing now," Shiancoe said Monday after lining up with the first-team offense for the second day in a row with Dickson out. "The coaches have plans and are throwing me in there whenever they feel I'm ready, and that's the plan.
"They bring in many players here to contribute to the offense. That's what it's all about. I don't think there's one plan. I think I just go with the flow, work hard and do what the coaches tell me to do. The universe works in mysterious ways."
Shiancoe was signed to a one-year contract for the veteran minimum of $940,000 with a salary-cap figure of $555,000 under the mininum salary benefit.
Shiancoe, 33, has 243 career receptions for 2,677 yards and 27 touchdowns during a decade in the NFL. However, the former Morgan State and Minnesota Vikings standout didn't catch a pass last season with the New England Patriots. He was limited due to a hamstring injury.
"Great, great," Shiancoe said when asked how's it going so far. "I'm starting to feel my legs getting up under me and I'm feeling pretty fast."
The biggest challenge for Shiancoe is absorbing the playbook.
"Just learning the terminology, it's basically the same concepts, just different languages," Shiancoe said. "Once you start to learn the concepts, you master the language and eventually it starts to come. Everything is about repetitions, gaining confidence in yourself and the quarterback and the offense and just the whole stew."
The Ravens are encouraged by his progress and have been increasing his workload in practice.
"I’d say he’s done a really good job, but there is a learning curve," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He physically looks like he is in good shape. He is running routes well. He catches the ball well, and he’s learning the offense. That’s not easy. He’s not up to full speed because he’s not there mentally yet. But, we sure have a lot of talent and ability. He’s doing a good job.”
And Shiancoe has been impressed with quarterback Joe Flacco, the $120.6 million man who was named the Most Valuable Player for Super Bowl XLVII when he threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers.
"Good guy, good leader, and he's an accurate thrower," Shiancoe said of Flacco. "He didn't make the MVP for no reason."