With tight end Ed Dickson sidelined with an injury, Dennis Pitta stepped up into the starting role is last week's pre-season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and made the most of it. His three receptions included a highlight-reel grab where he went up into the air to pin the ball on the back of the opponent covering him, then corralled it as he fell to the ground for an amazing completion.
Drafted in 2010 in the fourth round, one round behind Dickson, Pitta was always known to have great hands but never go the chance to show it in his rookie season. Now with veteran Todd Heap released and signed by the Arizona Cardinals, Pitta is expected to continue to impress coaches and fans as he and Dickson will be counted on to not only replace Heap, but add to the position with the ability to put either or both of them in to create defensive mismatches.
In a story in Pitta's hometown paper, Ventura County Star, Pitta is in "Prime position" for a chance to shine and make a name for himself in the NFL.
Dickson is considered the more athletic of the two, but Pitta seems more disciplined and has shown better hands so far in camp and of course the one exhibition contest. The next three games might not be so important in terms of winning or losing, but this battle between friends will be the determination of which guy lines up along the offensive line come September 11th, when the Ravens host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2011 NFL regular season opener.
Either way, both guys figure to get a lot of reps in 2011, and the one that gets the leg up in pre-season will be the one that gets the nod when the games start for real in a little under a month.