The Baltimore Ravens lost tight end Dennis Pitta for the 2013 season on Saturday after he broke his hip in practice. Pitta seemed to be quarterback Joe Flacco's security blanket, ranking second on the team in receptions (61) and touchdowns (7) in 2012.
Dickson had just 21 receptions in 13 games for the Ravens last season, but the previous year he was in the same spot as Pitta: one of the team's primary receiving options. In 2011, Dickson picked up 54 receptions for 528 yards and five touchdowns. In fact, prior to 2012, Dickson out-produced Pitta in every statistical category. Although Dickson became the squad's blocking tight end last year, he's got speed -- he ran a 4.59 40 at the draft combine, and comes from Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense at Oregon -- not something you typically find in a 6'4 target. If Dickson can play to his 2011 form, he can help the Ravens minimize the loss of Pitta for the season.
Behind him, there isn't a whole lot of depth. The only other tight end on roster to record an NFL reception is Billy Bajema, best known for his work as a blocker, with only 38 receptions across eight years in the league. He didn't have any last year with the Ravens, despite playing in eight games.
They also have Alex Silvestro -- a defensive end at Rutgers converted to tight end while with the Patriots in 2011. He spent most of last year on the Ravens' practice squad, but has only appeared in one game across his two seasons in the league. His most notable NFL achievement was probably bumping Tiquan Underwood from the Patriots' roster the day before the 2012 Super Bowl. And rounding out the depth chart at the position is rookie Matt Furstenburg, who went undrafted out of Maryland and signed with Baltimore.
However, a new face could enter the mix: Before Pitta's injury, the Ravens hosted Visanthe Shiancoe, who is looking for an NFL team to join this year. Shiancoe became a big part of Minnesota's receiving game in his five years with the club, recording over 500 receiving yards three times, leading the team with 11 touchdowns in 2009 when Brett Favre was quarterback. He was on the Patriots last year, but didn't catch any passes while backing up Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.