After the initial shock of losing tight end Dennis Pitta for the season, the focus for the Ravens turned to the next man up on the depth chart:
The fellow fourth-year tight end knows he has a big opportunity in front of him, and that the Ravens are counting on him to play a key role in the offense.
"I've got 24 hours to grieve, and then it's the next man up," Dickson said after Sunday's practice. "That's the mentality here. I've got to pick him up with my play.
"The team needs me to step up."
Pitta and Dickson were expected to be one of the league's better tight end tandems this season, but now Dickson has to pick up the slack.
He's coming off a down year in 2012, where he finished with 21 catches for 225 yards and no touchdowns. That was a drop in production from 2011, where he started every game and had 54 catches for 28 yards and five touchdowns.
Dickson, who is in a contract year, has been clear even before Pitta's injury that he wanted his production to increase in 2013.
"My expectations before the season, coming into the season, were to contribute and help this team get back to where we were last year, and that's winning the Super Bowl," Dickson said. "I wanted my production to go up, and how do you get your production to go up? You have to prove out here in practice each and every day that you're the guy, and you can get the job done."
One area where Dickson is trying to grow is in developing chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco. Pitta and Flacco were good friends off the field, and that connection translated to the football field.
"The bond that they had was on and off the field," Dickson said. "They eat breakfast and everything together. So, I'm not going to stalk Joe and follow him around, but I'm going to be right there in his pocket."
Dickson is now looking to use the next few weeks of training camp to build that connection and trust with his quarterback.
"I want to get a little bit on that level," Dickson said. "I'm not trying to replace Dennis. I went to Joe and said, I'm not trying to replace Dennis as being his friend. I just want to get closer to Joe and build that chemistry because it will help on the field."
While the injury to Pitta opens a door for Dickson, it was difficult to see his teammate go down for the year.
Dickson has been paired with Pitta since the two entered the league together in 2010. Dickson was a third-round pick and Pitta was selected one round later, and the two of them were roommates on the road for their first two seasons.
After seeing Pitta carted off the field with a towel over his head, Dickson reached out as soon as practice finished.
"I was a little emotional, but I had to finish practice," Dickson said. "I sent him a text. I just told him, 'We're going to get by this. We can get by this together. It's just a little bump in the road, and [we'll] battle it through treatment and get over it.'"
Now Dickson knows that the opportunity is right in front of him to have a big year, and he's hoping to make the most of his chance.
"You hate to get an opportunity in this fashion, but you have to relish the opportunity because it doesn't come by that often," Dickson said.