Despite missing a second straight day of practice Saturday, second year tight end Ed Dickson remains the leader of the pack at the position. As a first year starter, it would be safe to assume Dickson could see more work at “The Linc” than some of the other starters on the roster.
Dennis Pitta (2nd year) and Davon Drew (3rd year) are battling for playing time behind Dickson on the depth chart. Drew has been impressive during Training Camp after disappointing for his first two seasons. Expect both to see significant time Thursday night.
Also expected to see time Thursday night is undrafted rookie Johdrick Morris (Southern Mississippi), who is a longshot to make the roster.
This is clearly the biggest question mark on the roster, as Derrick Mason’s decision to join Rex Ryan and the New York Jets leaves an unknown factor about whether or not the team will make another addition to Cam Cameron’s offense before the trip to Philly. Veterans like TJ Houshmandzadeh and Jerricho Cotchery remain available, but may not be ideal.
If no veteran is added (or an added veteran does not play), expect rookie Torrey Smith (Maryland) to start opposite Anquan Boldin in the preseason opener. Boldin is not likely to get a lot of playing time, but Smith would certainly be expected to spend a good amount of time on the field.
Behind them; rookie Tandon Doss (Indiana) and veterans Marcus Smith, Justin Harper and Brandon Jones are expected to be in the next group on the field and should see significant time. New acquisition James Hardy would be expected to see more time in that group as well, but he has missed a good deal of Camp (including Saturday) with a hamstring injury. David Reed (wrist) is not likely to play Thursday, he has yet to be activated from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
The next group of players that can be expected to see time include undrafted rookies LaQuan Williams (Maryland, Poly), Terrell Zachery (Auburn), Rodney Bradley (Hawaii) and Hakeem Moore (Towson).