When Dennis Pitta went down in Ravens training camp practice, quarterback Joe Flacco not only lost one of his most reliable receivers, but perhaps his best friend on the team.
"My first reaction was probably a little selfish," Flacco told BaltimoreRavens.com. "It was like, 'Man, that's going to hurt us a little bit.'
"Then you think about him and his family. It's just crazy, it's a freak injury. You feel bad for him. You don't ever want to see somebody have an injury where they're going to be out for the season and not be able to do what they do."
Flacco and Pitta are nearly inseparable off the field. The two eat together nearly all the time, they go out to dinner and have double dates with their wives. They share stories about being fathers to baby boys.
The Ravens quarterback was concerned about Pitta's psyche after the injury. Pitta was entering a contract year and was likely in line for a big payday.
Flacco spoke to Pitta's wife the night of the injury, and Pitta called him back the next day.
"I can't imagine laying in the bed and saying, 'Man, I can't play this year.' You could get pretty down and depressed. You never know," Flacco said.
"It was good to talk to him on the phone and see that his spirits were good and that he sounded good. He sounded like himself. Once I talked to him a little bit and sensed that he was feeling pretty good, I felt a little bit better."
Flacco and Pitta's bond was also evident on the field, where Flacco frequently relied on Pitta in tight spots and connected with him on 61 passes for 669 yards and seven touchdowns last season. In many ways, Pitta and wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who was traded to San Francisco, were Flacco's go-to guys.
But Flacco is confident the Ravens can overcome Pitta's injury.
"Of course it's a loss," he said. "Any time you lose a great player like that, it's a loss. We maybe won't run as much diesel two-tight end formations. But I'm confident in the guys we have. We'll be fine. I'm confident in who we have and I'm confident in myself that we can make up for it."
Asked if he could develop a chemistry similar to the one he had with Pitta with someone else, Flacco said, "definitely."
"I've been building it up with Torrey for years, and guys like Tandon [Doss], and LaQuan [Williams] and Deonte [Thompson] and Jacoby [Jones]," Flacco said. "As those guys get more game reps, that trust will come."