4 Downs: What does Pitta's return mean for Ravens?
It's been a long time coming, but Ravens tight end Ed Dickson finally found the end zone on Sunday early in the Ravens' 29-26 win over Minnesota.
It was the first touchdown in 33 games for Dickson, whose season has been marred by dropped passes, reduced production and a public rebuke from head coach John Harbaugh.
The touchdown catch, which gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead was "a long time coming," Dickson said. "I haven’t scored a touchdown in almost two years. Hopefully, it will open the flood gates."
Dickson, who had 54 catches for 528 yards and five touchdowns in 2011, entered the Vikings game with 16 catches for 211 yards, despite becoming the starter after the preseason injury to Dennis Pitta. He had not caught a touchdown pass since Dec. 24, 2011. For the second straight season, Dickson missed the majority of training camp with an injury, and it again appeared to hamper his timing and chemistry with quarterback Joe Flacco.
After the Ravens loss at Buffalo in Week 4, with the Ravens offense in a funk, a frustrated Harbaugh didn't mince words when talking about Dickson.
"He's not the same player right now that he was (two years ago)," Harbaugh said. "If he has a confidence problem, that's on him. Ed needs to catch the ball. If he's thinking about anything besides that, he's doing himself a disservice. You got that kind of talent and those kind of gifts, go play ball."
Dickson at times has shown flashes of the player that made him the Ravens' third-round pick -- one round before they took Pitta -- in 2010. Against the Jets, he had three catches for 55 yards and ran right over Ed Reed on a 27-yard gain.
Both Pitta and Dickson are set to become free agents at the end of the season, and the Ravens are not likely to shell out money for both of them. Pitta has clearly emerged as the Ravens top tight end, so while Dickson is trying to help the Ravens playoff chase, the last month of the season also can be viewed as his last, best chance to audition before free agency.
"A wise man once told me," Dickson said, " ‘What you do in December people will always remember.’”