OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Second-year tight end Ed Dickson filled in for an injured Todd Heap over the final month of the 2010 season, but in the back of his mind, he knew the veteran was on his way back.
It looks like he’ll have no such safety net this year as the Ravens intend to officially release Heap on Thursday to save salary cap room. While some hope remains for Heap’s return at a reduced cost, Dickson finds himself as the projected starter entering training camp.
“It means a lot to me that they have that much faith in me,” said Dickson, who weighed in a few pounds heavier than last season. “I’ve been here one year. Like I said, all I can do is improve my game. I can come out in training camp and play my game and just try to get better everyday in camp and work to getting that starting position. They didn’t sign anything over to me right now. I still have competition, and I love competition.”
His biggest competition is fellow 2010 draftee Dennis Pitta, selected in the fourth round, and third-year player Davon Drew. Dickson played in 15 games last season, catching 11 passes for 152 yards and one touchdown after being drafted in the third round from the University of Oregon. Pitta appeared in 11 games, making just one catch for 1 yard.
As excited as Dickson is for the opportunity after training in Eugene, Ore. at his alma mater this offseason, the young tight end reserves hope for Heap’s return.
“Todd Heap is a great individual, teacher, a great teammate, and he’ll be missed if he’s not here with us,” Dickson said. “With that said, hopefully he’s back with us. He taught me a lot just in that one year. He taught me how to be just an overall player in this game.”
Even if the 10-year veteran — with a resume that includes 41 career touchdown catches and 5,492 receiving yards — doesn’t return to Baltimore, the 24-year-old Dickson may still reach out to his mentor for advice during the season.
“I knew I had Superman coming back some game,” said Dickson about his month-long stay in the starting lineup after Heap’s hamstring injury last December. “If he’s not with us this year, I’ll probably still call him and ask him a couple things, and I’ll just go with our game plan and do it to the best of my ability.”
Listen to Dickson’s comments at training camp report day in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault right here.