The Baltimore Ravens were dealt a crushing blow to their hopes of repeating as Super Bowl champions in 2013 very early in training camp. A dislocated hip and subsequent surgery is expected to force tight end Dennis Pitta to miss the entire 2013 season. This is going to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle for the Baltimore offense in the upcoming season, and it’s fairly obvious to see why.
Pitta’s regular season was nothing to write home about in terms of production for a tight end with 61 catches for 669 yards and seven touchdowns. It wasn’t until the playoffs where his value to the Ravens really took flight with three touchdowns in four postseason games, including one in the Super Bowl. He signed his one-year RFA tender of $2.023 million with the Ravens back in May. Quarterback Joe Flacco really gained a trust with Pitta as the year wore on, and his loss will be tough for the man under center to deal with.
That difficulty is only further exacerbated by the fact that the Ravens dealt wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason to free up some additional salary cap space following the Flacco mega-deal. Baltimore’s tight end duo of Pitta and Ed Dickson were expected to pick up some of that slack, but now Dickson alone is thrust into the spotlight.
Dickson will have to work hard to replace the loss of Pitta as the only game he had more than two receptions all season was the final regular season contest where Pitta did not play. He has a similar skill set at 6-foot-4 255-pounds but Dickson has yet to gain the trust of Flacco in the way Pitta did a season ago. Even though he was drafted a round ahead of Pitta, Dickson hasn’t shown the type of consistency that the Ravens enjoyed from his counterpart during the 2012 season.
The aerial attack for Baltimore will clearly suffer without one of its most clutch targets in Boldin and Flacco’s most reliable tight end option in Pitta. Will this be a crippling blow? It may be too early to leave the Ravens for dead with weapons like Torrey Smith and Ray Rice still at Flacco’s disposal, but this will be more than just a bump in the road for the team’s 2013 forecast.