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Ravens Need More From Tight Ends

Posted Sep 18, 2013

Starting tight end Ed Dickson is again having problems with his hands.

Looking around the NFL, more and more teams have a big-time receiving tight end – or two.

The Ravens feels they’re one of those teams. But with Dennis Pitta (hip) sidelined and Ed Dickson struggling with his hands early this season, they haven’t seen it yet.

“It’s the latest evolution in this league,” Harbaugh said.

“It seems like everybody has a tight end who can make plays. … It’s something we should have as well going forward the rest of the year. We have the guys to do it."

The Ravens haven’t seen much production from their tight ends this season. Dickson, Dallas Clark and Billy Bajema have a combined 10 catches for 126 yards and no touchdowns through two games.

“Those guys have to be a bigger part of what we’re doing,” Harbaugh said.

Losing Pitta, who caught 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last year, has been big. He could return at some point this season, as he was given the injured reserve– designated to return distinction. But if he does, it likely won’t be until late this season.

Pitta’s share fell to Dickson, who hasn’t yet become the big-play receiver the Ravens drafted in the third round out of Oregon in 2010. Dickson has shown flashes over his career and looked ready for a breakout this summer, but he suffered a hamstring tear that sidelined him for the entire preseason.

Dickson has looked rusty in his return, and has just one catch for 13 yards so far.

He’s been targeted six times, and has three drops. After Dickson didn’t haul in a low pass on the Ravens’ first offensive play Sunday against Cleveland, quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t throw his way again.

“Ed should be a big-play guy up the seam, over routes and all those kinds of things,” Harbaugh said. “We need to get Ed going.”

Dickson looked to be coming of age in his sophomore season, starting all 16 games and catching 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns. But his production dropped off last season with the emergence of Pitta. Dickson caught just 21 balls for 225 yards and no touchdowns.

"I’m frustrated with my production," Dickson said. "Those are self-inflicted wounds. Only I can get that handled, and I’m going to work until I get that done.”

Dropped passes have plagued Dickson throughout his young career, and have been something he has frequently worked on, along with his chemistry with Flacco. Dickson said he's been spending extra time catching balls after practice, and won't stop for the rest of the season.

“I’m still expecting to do great things this season," Dickson said. "I can’t get down on myself. “Hopefully a lot of teams sleep on me and say, ‘OK, we don’t have to guard him.’”

Clark has long been known for his excellent hands, but he had drops in Week 1. He had a pass that could have gone for a touchdown hit the turf, causing Flacco to grab his head in disbelief. Clark also had one other drop on a pass over the middle.

Clark was targeted with one pass and caught it for eight yards and a first down.

“Dallas had a couple of big plays for us,” Harbaugh said. “He had a big third-down conversion.”

The Ravens’ tight end leader Sunday against Cleveland was Bajema, who caught a first-down pass for 16 yards. Bajema didn’t make a single catch all last season for the Ravens.

“Billy made the catch on top of the linebackers, which was big for us,” Harbaugh said. “People consider Billy to be a blocker, which he does a great job of, but for him to be able to get downfield and make some plays like that is important.”

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