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In the immediate aftermath of the season-ending hip injury to Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, many shifted their thoughts toward quarterback Joe Flacco and the impact the devastating news would have on him.
Described as “disconsolate” following the injury by one national publication, Flacco is not only dealing with the loss of his favorite target in the passing game but also the absence of his best friend on the team. The two became close because of their wives’ friendship and cultivated their own relationship that was highlighted by their decision to start a Fu Manchu club late in the 2011 season that gained popularity among Ravens fans.
Flacco visited Pitta in the hospital after the fourth-year tight end underwent surgery on July 27 and has spent time with him since then. Pitta was seen on crutches in the Ravens training facility in Owings Mills last week and is a few weeks away from beginning a long rehabilitation process.
“You feel bad about it and you feel sorry for him,” Flacco said. “But then, when you go hang out with him and you see how he is doing, his spirits are the same and he seems to be great. He’s handling it really well, so that helps you get more at ease with it. It’s been good. It is what it is. It’s a shame and it’s one of those freak things, but we’ll just have to adjust.”
The bigger concern now facing Flacco is on whom he will depend in the passing game with Pitta expected to miss the entire season and wide receiver Anquan Boldin now playing in San Francisco. In 2012, Flacco targeted Pitta 93 times and Boldin 112 times in his 531 pass attempts in the regular season.
The Ravens signed veteran Visanthe Shiancoe to boost their depth at the tight end position a day after Pitta’s injury but are now dealing with the short-term absence of Ed Dickson, who suffered a slight hamstring tear on Sunday.
Flacco credited young wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss as potential middle-of-the-field targets who have performed well during training camp practices. It remains to be seen whether these new pass-catchers will be able to carry over their improvement to live-game action, but the Baltimore quarterback doesn’t anticipate any dramatic adjustments in what the Ravens will do offensively despite his close friend being sidelined in 2013.
“It’s not going to change what we do or anything like that,” Flacco said. “Obviously, you’re going to miss a guy like that. He’s a good target, he’s a good player, but we’ll adjust. We’ll do everything we can to go out there and play the way we always do.”