Carroll County Times

Ravens notebook: Harbaugh frustrated with Dickson

OWINGS MILLS - Ravens tight end Ed Dickson has more drops than catches through four games.
He has been praised by coach John Harbaugh for what he's provided as a run blocker, but Dickson was supposed to be a primary contributor to Baltimore's passing game this year, especially with Dennis Pitta injured, and Harbaugh made it clear Monday that he's disappointed with Dickson's play so far this season.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown the ball to Dickson nine times. Dickson has gotten his hands on all nine, but he's caught just three for 25 yards.
He caught two passes for 12 yards during the second half Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, but he also had a drop during the first half that deflected off of his hands and led to an interception for Buffalo.
Dickson is just two years removed from catching 54 passes for the Ravens, but he saw his role diminish last year and is once again seeing his playing time lessened because of his struggles.
"The stats kind of speak for themselves [with the drops]," Harbaugh said. "He's not the same player right now that he was [in 2011] obviously. Ed just needs to go catch the ball. He needs to run fast, get open and catch the football, put it away and get up field.
"That's all he needs to do. And if he's thinking about anything besides that, he's doing himself a disservice. If he's lacking confidence for some reason, that's on him. [If] you've got that kind of talent and those kinds of gifts, go play ball. Go show everybody what you're capable of doing. That's what I expect to see from Ed."
But Baltimore is clearly losing confidence in Dickson.
According to Pro Football Focus, Dickson was on the field for just 27 of the Ravens' 70 offensive snaps Sunday. By comparison, 34-year old tight end Dallas Clark, signed by Baltimore just a month-and-a-half ago, was on the field for 50 snaps and was targeted on nine passes.
INJURY UPDATES: Cornerback Lardarius Webb, outside linebacker Albert McClellan and wide receivers Marlon Brown and Deonte Thompson all left Sunday's game against the Bills with injuries, but it's possible all four could play against the Miami Dolphins this week.
Webb and Brown both suffered hamstring strains, but Harbaugh said both looked good Monday morning.
"We'll have to carry out through the week and see how they look," Harbaugh said.
Thompson sustained a concussion during the fourth quarter on a helmet-to-helmet hit. He'll have go through the normal NFL protocol before being cleared to play, but Harbaugh said Thompson seemed fine Monday and didn't have any concussion symptoms.
McClellan has a shoulder sprain, but he underwent an MRI which didn't reveal any major damage.
BACK TO WORK: Wide receiver Jacoby Jones appears to be close to being able to return to the field.
Jones hasn't played the last three games after spraining his knee during the Ravens' season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos, but Harbaugh said that Jones will return to practice this week, although he didn't say when Jones is expected to return to game action.
As for slot receiver Brandon Stokley, he missed Sunday's game because of a groin strain and will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis. Harbaugh said Baltimore hoped Stokley would be able to play Sunday but that his groin tightened up during pregame warmups.
CONSOLATION: The Ravens are just 2-2 and are coming off a disappointing loss to the Bills, but Harbaugh smiled when asked by a reporter Monday if there's any consolation knowing that, in spite of any issues, Baltimore is tied for first place in the AFC North.
The Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals are all 2-2. The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-4.
"It's a consolation. No doubt," Harbaugh said while smiling. "It's week-to-week in the National Football League. Here we sit. We're tied for the lead in our division with a tiebreaker on Cleveland.
"And if I'm Pittsburgh, I'm looking at it like, 'We're just two games out of the lead in the division.' They're right there. Whoever wins the division games is going to win the division, but we can do our cause a whole lot of good by going down to Miami and playing our best and winning the football game."
BIG DECISION: Harbaugh explained the decision to get away from the running game during the second half Sunday.
Baltimore had issues with its running game during its first three games. And after Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for just 15 yards on seven carries during the first half against Buffalo, the Ravens ran the ball just twice the rest of the game.
At one point, Baltimore passed on 31 consecutive plays. The Ravens finished with just nine rushing attempts, the fewest in team history.
"That's my call all the way," Harbaugh said. "I just felt like we weren't running the ball well enough to win the game running the ball. Looking back on it, I feel the same way. After watching the tape, I feel we did exactly the right thing to try to win that game, so no second-guessing myself on that.
"That was my decision, and that's the way we went with it. If you feel like we should have run the ball more in the second half, then I definitely respect that opinion, but it didn't look that way to me."