The Ravens and Joe Flacco spent most of the preseason running their new-look offense without their top two tight ends. Dennis Pitta sustained a broken hand in practice early in camp, and a few days later, Ed Dickson suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason opener at Atlanta.
Neither played again in the preseason, and although they had returned to practice, there was some concern about whether they could jump right back into game action and be effective.
Both players erased those concerns emphatically, making key plays in the Ravens 44-13 rout of Cincinnati in the season-opener at M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night.
Pitta was the starter and finished with five catches for a career-high 73 yards, including a leaping, 10-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter that built the Ravens lead to 24-13.
I had a smaller guy on me, and Joe saw a mismatch, said the 6-foot-4 Pitta, who was targeted a team-high nine times. Joe put the ball up where only I would be able to go up and get it.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh joked that after seeing how Pitta and Dickson performed, Some of these players will be telling me now, Why do we need training camp if those guys can play that well?
Those guys study. They stayed with it, Harbaugh added. They worked really hard, and they had a body of work underneath with Joe built up over the course of the offseason.
Dickson was targeted three times and finished with two catches for 22 yards.
Dennis had a couple more catches, and we both blocked pretty good, but as a whole, and thats the way we look at it the tight end group as a whole, we played pretty solid, Dickson said. If we have that kind of outcome every week and put up 40-some points, Ill take it.