Ravens tight end Ed Dickson makes a catch during practice earlier… (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
After three games, Ravens tight end Ed Dickson has more dropped passes than catches. He got booed in the home opener and his playing time in the pass offense might be decreasing.
But instead of sulking and making excuses Dickson just keeps working and working. He believes that his time will come eventually.
"Things may have gotten off to a rocky start but it is a long season," Dickson said. "As a team, it is working the way we want it to go. We want to keep getting better and I want to get better. Who knows? This might be a big week for me."
Until then, Dickson continues to be one of the team's top enigmas for the 2013 season. After starting tight end Dennis Pitta went down with a hip injury in the first week of training camp, most assumed Dickson would fill in.
He was just as big and certainly faster. This might have been his big season. But three games into his fourth year, Dickson has one catch for 13 yards. That's not good, especially when Billy Bajema, the team's so-called blocking tight end, has one catch for 18 yards.
It's far off his 2011 totals when Dickson had 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns. At times, he has just disappeared except when he drops passes.
Dickson has five drops so far.
"There is no frustration on my part or on the team's part," Dickson said. "It's coming along little by little and maybe this week I will get more involved in the passing game. I can only control the opportunities I've been given."
One of the best things about Dickson is that he is a stand up guy. He could have an excuse for the poor hands performances, but he won't use it. There is a tendency to forget that Dickson tore a hamstring early in training camp and didn't have a preseason.
He missed all four games.
"When you miss time — getting into rhythm, getting the kinks worked out and getting the rust off — it becomes a factor," Ravens tight ends coach Wade Harman. "But now that he has gotten a lot of work in practice, I think those things will start showing up in the games."
Everyone would like to see that soon. It's hard to get those pictures of Dickson dropping passes over the middle out of your head.
Some were low and others left Dickson vulnerable to big hits, but the general rule of the NFL is that if a ball touches a receivers' fingers tips, then he should catch it.
In the last two games, Dickson has been targeted only once in each of those contests. He dropped the pass over the middle against the Cleveland Browns, but caught an 18 yard pass in the second quarter versus the Houston Texans. But the play was nullified because of a Ravens holding penalty.
Dickson, though, works on. After a lot of practices, he stays on the field catching passes.
"I don't make excuses for me, I think I should catch every single ball regardless if it's a good or bad pass," Dickson said. "I'm strong mentally. I can't go in the dumps because the team needs me to do well. Ask Joe, he hasn't lost confidence in me and I will continue to work with him so we can get on the same page. We're getting there."
It will be interesting to see if Joe Flacco and Dickson will develop that type of chemistry. Last week against Houston, tight end Dallas Clark teamed with Flacco for four catches for 46 yards, a couple of them on third down.
Dickson isn't concerned. He'll fill whatever role the Ravens need him to play. Against Houston, he had a good game blocking especially in the second half when the Ravens wanted to run the ball.
As the Ravens third-round pick out of Oregon, Dickson was thought of more as a receiver than a blocker because of the Ducks' wide open offense.
"Learning to block is tough, especially for guys who came out of spread offenses," Harman said. "At Oregon, Ed didn't spend a lot of time with his hand on the ground. That is an area where he has made a lot of improvement.
"He is a tough kid mentally and has an understanding that you go through rough periods where you don't always perform as well as you expect.Look at Torrey Smith. He had a couple of tough games and then he scores three touchdowns in the first quarter of that game against St. Louis. You have to keep focused on the task at hand, not worrying about the last play."
Dickson remains calm and confident even though he is in the final year of his contract. He still sees himself being the ultimate and complete tight end.
'I'm going to do whatever they need me to do," Dickson said. "I'm not going to be one of those guys who just says get me the ball, get me the ball. My time and opportunities will come, just like in last year's Super Bowl when I made two big catches. Being around a wily veteran like Dallas Clark, he has taught me to tune out the distractions and play.
"My job isn't about pouting, it's helping this team get a W every week. As for the contract, you can't get into that mindset. The business end will take care of itself. My time will come, but for now, it's helping this team get another Super Bowl ring."