Ed Dickson is aware of the opportunity that rests in front of him.
He didn't want to become Baltimore's top tight end due to a major injury to teammate Dennis Pitta. But what happened has happened, and it's on him to elevate his game so he can produce in at the position.
On Wednesday, he showed a glimpse of what he's capable of.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco targeted him quite a bit, including once on a deep seam route. Dickson rose up and caught the ball for a big gain that looked to be going for a touchdown.
However, a referee ruled him down by contact, as there is no tackling during practice.
Dickson was also a frequent target in check down situations. The Ravens plugged Dickson in a variety of situations offensively, and it would appear the fourth-year tight end is responding to the challenge.
"I thought Ed practiced extremely well," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Ed is talented, Ed has worked really hard and I'm glad he's going to get an opportunity to show what he can do."
Dickson caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, only to see his receiving production drop off to 21 receptions, 225 yards and zero touchdowns a year ago. Dickson did battle injuries, but was also asked to help block with the offensive line in passing situations.
With Pitta out for the season, he'll certainly be called upon more in the passing game.
"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. "The team needs me to step up. They need other guys to step up and make those plays. And with that said, it doesn’t start when we start playing games. It starts tomorrow in practice. It started today in practice, and we build on the things we’ve been building on every day.”
Another tight end that's beginning to gain some traction is Matt Furstenburg, an undrafted rookie out of Maryland.
During practice, Furstenburg was able to slip behind the Ravens' second-team defense and haul in a wide-open bomb from quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
Furstenburg was then off to the races for a touchdown, showing why he recorded the second-fasted 40-yard dash time at this past February's NFL combine.
Furstenburg has impressed of late to where it's feasible that he could earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
"Matt has really improved from the minicamp," Harbaugh said. "He just didn't play fast in the minicamp. I think it was more mental than anything else. Now, he's learned what he is doing and he's made some plays. It seems like he is getting more confident every single day and he's doing a really good job. He's playing himself into a possible opportunity to make the team."
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