The Ravens signed veteran tight end Billy Bajema earlier this month to provide some depth during training camp and to compete for the No. 3 tight end spot on the roster.
Two weeks later, he's suddenly taking almost all of his reps with the first team.
Injuries to Dennis Pitta (broken hand) and Ed Dickson (shoulder sprain) have moved Bajema up the depth chart for the time being, and he's trying to show that he's up to the challenge.
"It's unfortunate for the team to lose two really good players for the time being, but while they're down it's a good opportunity for guys like me to get reps and get used to running with the first team," he said. "It's made the adjustment happen quicker for me."
Bajema has picked up the offense quickly and is making a splash during practice. He has shown reliable hands and is developing chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco.
"He's good at everything," Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said. "I'm still getting a feel for him, but I know he can block, I know he's smart, I know he's tough, I know he can catch."
Bajema, 29, is an eight-year veteran who spent the last three years with the St. Louis Rams. He has a reputation of bringing intensity to the field, even during practice, which has earned him the nickname "Crazy Bill" from Dickson.
"He's very intense; he's high energy," Dickson said. "He plays every play like it's his last."
That attitude has caught the coaching staff's attention and rubbed off on the younger players on the roster.
"He is a hard-working guy," Tight Ends Coach Wade Harman said. "He's been around for a bunch of years, but you see him busting his tail out there down the field, catching balls. Whatever you need him to do, he is out there hustling. In drills, he gives 100 percent, and it's great for those guys to see."
Pitta and Dickson are both expected to return by the start of the regular season, which means that Bajema is competing with former practice-squad player Davon Drew and undrafted rookies Matt Balasavage and Bruce Figgins for the final tight end roster spot.
That third tight end job is typically more of a blocking role, often utilized in goal-line or short-yardage situations. Bajema, 6-foot-4, 259 pounds, has been known as more of a blocker during his career. He has 38 receptions for 398 yards and two touchdowns.
"I take a lot of pride in the blocking aspect of the position," Bajema said. "We've got a great running back and a great running game, so to be able to be effective in the passing game and a weapon as a run blocker is really what I would like to do."