Ed Dickson understood that what he said could be perceived as arrogance. But the Ravens tight end didn't back down from his original contention that he thinks of himself as being one of the best in the NFL at his position.
"I expect a big season out of myself," Dickson said after Wednesday's practice at the team's training complex in Owings Mills. "I consider myself one of the top tight ends. I don't talk about it. I want to be about it. So I'm going to lead with my play this year, and I'm going to prove that I'm one of the best tight ends and help this team."
Dickson had a decent season last year, ranking second on the team in touchdown catches (five), third in receptions (54) and fourth in yards (528). But one of the best tight ends? Part of a group that includes the New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham and the Dallas Cowboys' Jason Witten?
Dickson acknowledged that his statement could be interpreted as an empty boast, but he said it's rooted in confidence.
"If I have the mindset that I'm one of the worst tight ends in the game, I'm going to play with that mindset," he said. "Like I said, I don't talk about it. I'm not on TV, yelling, 'I'm the best tight end in the NFL.' I'm going to let my game prove that I'm one of the best tight ends in the game."
Dickson said one of his objectives is to surpass the 17 touchdowns Gronkowski caught last season, an NFL record for tight ends that eclipsed the previous mark of 13 shared by the San Diego Chargers' Antonio Gates in 2004 and the San Francisco 49ers' Vernon Davis in 2009.
"The person to beat out right now is Gronkowski," Dickson said. "He's got the top numbers, 17 touchdowns. So if I beat those 17 touchdowns, I can say that I'm one of the best. I want to get 80 to 100 catches, over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. I think those are very achievable numbers, and I'm going to work as such."