OWINGS MILLS - Tight end Ed Dickson looked poised to be a bigger piece of the Ravens' offense this season even before Saturday, but he'll now be counted on even more with top tight end Dennis Pitta likely sidelined for season with a dislocated hip.
Dickson had a lessened role as a pass-catcher last season as Pitta emerged as a key piece of Baltimore's passing game, but he's just two years removed from catching 54 passes, and he's been maybe as impressive as any player on the Ravens' offense through organized team activities, minicamp and the first week of training camp.
"Ed has been playing and performing extremely well," Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "He's had a good camp thus far. He certainly ended up the spring in great shape. He's moving well. He's been catching the ball for us. And he has a lot of big play potential."
Pitta was the more consistently involved of the two in the offense last season, especially in the passing game, but Dickson still started 14 of the 17 games he played in (including the playoffs) and, per Pro Football Focus, was on the field for nearly half of Baltimore's offensive snaps.
"Obviously, those two guys were a very talented tandem to have, but Ed is a very capable guy," Caldwell said. "[But] I'm certain that ... you can't go into a ball game with just one, so we're going to have to have some other guys step up as well."
The Ravens re-signed veteran Billy Bajema during the offseason, and he appears to be the clear No. 2 tight end behind Dickson at this point.
But aside from Dickson and Bajema, Baltimore has just undrafted free agent Matt Furstenburg and a former undrafted free agent Alex Silvestro.
Coincidentally, the Ravens hosted veteran free agent Visanthe Shiancoe at practice Friday, although it's unclear if Baltimore will sign him.
The 31-year old Shiancoe, who played collegiately at Morgan State in Baltimore, was a third-round pick of the New York Giants in 2003 and has spent time with the Giants, Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots.
He played in just four games for the Patriots last season before being released, but he started 14 games for the Vikings in 2011 and had 56 catches for 566 yards and 11 touchdowns for Minnesota in 2009.
DEFENSIVE DOMINANCE: The defense continues to get the better of the offense through the beginning part of training camp.
In particular, the defensive line has consistently overmatched an offensive line that is without right guard Marshal Yanda, currently without starting left guard Kelechi Osemele and is working with a clearly out of shape Bryant McKinnie at left tackle.
Aside from just the offensive line, Saturday was also a tough day for rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Juszczyk is being counted on to replace Vonta Leach, but he was part of an offensive group Saturday that struggled during a goal-line drill late in practice.
On somewhere between 10 and 15 plays from the 2-yard line, the majority of which were running plays, the offense scored just twice.
After one play where outside linebacker Terrell Suggs easily forced his way into the backfield to tackle a running back for a loss, the boisterous Suggs walked off the field boastfully yelling, "Where the [expletive] is Vonta Leach?" and repeated that several times.
FIRST FIGHT: The first padded practice of training camp saw the first extensive fight of training camp.
The fight was between center Gino Gradkowski and nose tackle Terrence Cody.
After getting into a post-play shoving match a play earlier - a shoving match that ended with Cody slapping Gradkowski in the helmet - Cody and Gradkowski were matched up against each other again. Cody straight-armed Gradkowski to the face right off the snap and continued to push Gradkowski's facemask for the duration of the play. Punches from both followed. Gradkowski eventually wrestled Cody to the ground. And most of the team rushed the field at that point before things were eventually broken up.
Gradkowski downplayed the fight after practice, though.
""It was one of those things during camp where you go against each other so many times [that] it's bound to flare up," Gradkowski said.
BIG LEG:Kicker Justin Tucker easily hit field goals from 60 and 65 yards early in practice. Both kicks were right down the middle and cleared the uprights by at least five yards. Tucker is coming off an impressive rookie season and has been near perfect through OTAs, minicamp and this point of training camp.
- Pro Football
- Gino Gradkowski
- Baltimore Ravens
- Free Agency
- Dennis Pitta
- Minnesota Vikings
- New England Patriots
- New York Giants
- Terrell Suggs
- Vonta Leach
- Justin Tucker
- Kyle Juszczyk
- Morgan State University
- Ed Dickson
- Terrence Cody
- Alex Silvestro
- Marshal Yanda
- Billy Bajema
- Visanthe Shiancoe
- Bryant McKinnie