It was the first time the Ravens suited up in their full combat gear this training camp and unfortunately for Dennis Pitta it was the last. Perhaps even his last as a Raven.
Injuries are part of the game and if a team is going to experience one as crushing as the loss of Pitta, now is the time. There’s more time to adapt and adjust.
The Ravens have always lived by the credo “Next Man Up” and this time will be no different than the times they absorbed body blows from the losses of Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb.
It’s now Ed Dickson’s time as he accepts the reins from his 2010 NFL Draft classmate. Time will tell if he does so successfully.
The combined usage of these two talented tight ends was supposed to help offset the loss of Anquan Boldin. Now the team will have to reset their plan – again!
Perhaps they turn to 33-year-old Maryland resident and former Morgan State University star Visanthe Shiancoe. The former 2003 third-round pick of the New York Giants coincidentally, observed practice with Ozzie Newsome on Friday.
Whatever happens rest assured offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell has a plan.
When Caldwell took over for Cam Cameron in 2012, he was somewhat saddled with an inherited offensive system. Clearly he used the hand-me-down system in a more productive way than his predecessor but this season it’s his turn to install his own scheme.
Since taking over as OC, there are two terms that have surfaced repetitively – “receiver distribution and location” and “taking the top off the defense”.
The terms tie together in that they are methods by which the route combinations dissect a given defense. Caldwell is all about taking the talents of his players and employing them in a way that allows each to succeed. That’s a bit different than taking talented players and forcing a system upon them.
The approach has changed Joe Flacco for the better. He’s been given a say in the offense – he’s taken ownership of it. No longer is he just a “game manager.” Caldwell wants him to be a difference maker. Clearly he was during the 2012 playoffs.
This approach enables the Ravens to move on from jolting losses like Pitta. They won’t ask Dickson to be Pitta or Billy Bajema or Matt Furstenberg to be Dickson. Caldwell with spread the field with the talent he has taking into consideration the input of his signal caller and his comfort level with each of his pass catchers.
When the 2013 season is said and done, who knows where it might leave Dennis Pitta who only two days ago was thought of as one of the teams big playmakers.
Pitta and Dickson are both free agents in 2014. What if Dickson is wildly successful this season? Could the Ravens choose to keep him over Pitta? If not how will they determine Pitta’s value? Clearly that discussion could leave the Ravens’ front office and Pitta’s representatives far apart at the bargaining table.
One collision during training camp clearly has a rippling effect.
It can change a season.
And it can alter careers.