Dickson has been working on his chemistry with Flacco so far this offseason, and is hoping to see a bigger role in this year’s passing game after his stats majorly trailed off last year.
“I always feel like I can have a bigger role in the passing game,” Dickson said with a grin after Friday’s practice.
His coach seems to agree. Asked whether he could see more two tight end sets this year with the departure of wide receiver Anquan Boldin, Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell says he thinks so.
Pitta and Dickson may share the load – or simply increase it –this year.
“Both guys can stretch the field. Both guys can catch the ball and run,” Caldwell said. “Obviously, we will utilize them in a number of different ways.”
Dickson was hampered early on last year by a preseason shoulder injury. He felt that allowed others to build more of a relationship with Flacco, and that it was difficult to catch up.
After starting all 16 games and recording 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns in his sophomore campaign, Dickson started just 11 games and snagged 21 balls for 225 yards and no scores last season.
“My injury kind of threw me off, and that trickled through the whole season,” Dickson said. “It’s definitely a confidence thing. When you get hurt and haven’t been out there for a little while, Joe loses a little confidence because you haven’t been out there.”
Dickson says he feels totally fine now, and he was a frequent target during Friday’s practice. The fourth-year tight end had problems with some drops in recent seasons, but he was showing off a strong set of hands in the short passing game in practice.
Developing the connection with Flacco is perhaps the biggest factor for Dickson.
“We’re building right now to become eye to eye,” he said. “I’m trying to get that three-way going: me, him and Pitta. I’m trying to be in the circle.”
The Ravens used a lot of two tight end formations last year as well, and Caldwell likes the “balance” that Dickson and Pitta provide. Dickson is bigger and bulkier, and is used more as a blocker along the line. Pitta can block too, but is known more for his route running and hands.
“We do have a great blend and mix of different personnel groupings and with those two guys,” Caldwell said.