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Ravens rookie Ed Dickson introduces himself

We're only a few days into training camp, but Ravens rookie tight end Ed Dickson has given us a few glimpses of the athleticism and potential that prompted some to give him that "tight end of the future" label.

Dickson has been practicing with the first-team offense while Todd Heap recovers from an illness, and he hasn't looked out of place lining up alongside Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Ray Rice.

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"The opportunity I've gotten is tremendous," Dickson said Saturday morning. "Todd is sick, so we're just trying to hold it down until he comes back. Me, Dennis [Pitta] and Davon Drew went out there and picked up the slack and started making plays."

That Dickson has been making those plays against the first- and second-team defenses is significant. The 6-foot-4 tight end out of Oregon made a couple of acrobatic catches this weekend, including a leaping touchdown grab and a spinning catch over the middle Friday.

"It helps you to get that chemistry [with the first-team offense], so if they have to throw me into the heat of the fire, I'm ready to go," Dickson said.

There were rumblings that Dickson struggled with the playbook at Oregon, and he reportedly scored a 10 on his Wonderlic test. I asked him about that (and to his credit, he was a total professional about it). He said he's not having trouble picking up Cam Cameron's offense -- at least not more than any other rookie would.

"Not at all, not even a little bit," Dickson said with confidence. "There's certain things that aren't clear, but that's just me being new. Everything is going to take time and repetition, but for the most part, I'm grasping the playbook as a whole and getting everything down pat."

OK, while you exhale, I'm going to continue to focus on the positives some more.

Dickson played basketball in high school, so I'm required by law to mention him in a sentence with All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates, so there you go. Dickson has a long way to get to Gates' level, but he's pretty athletic -- he says he can do a standing backflip -- so that's a good start.

The Ravens have been flexing Dickson out wide, especially in the two-minute drill, so he can use his speed and size to create mismatches in the secondary. 

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"The key to my game is my versatility," Dickson said. "I can create matchup problems. It's going to make it tough for teams to match up against us because we're going to do a lot of shifting and movement."

Dickson is so versatile he could maybe fill in for punter Sam Koch in a pinch. He punted 11 times in high school, averaging 45.4 yards a punt.

"I might need a little practice at that," Dickson said with a laugh. "But if Coach [John Harbaugh] asked me to punt, I'd do it. ... Everybody has kicked a ball before. It's not that hard. ... Just point your toes to the sky."

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