With tight end Dennis Pitta nursing a broken bone in his right hand that is expected to sideline him until the Ravens’ regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10, the burden has been on Ed Dickson, who started all 18 games (regular season and playoffs) last year, to perform well.
But Dickson is not alone. Davon Drew has been getting his share of reps that would have normally gone to Pitta, and with two rookies (Matt Balasavage and Bruce Figgins) joining the roster in April and a seven-year veteran (Billy Bajema) signing Wednesday, the 2009 fifth-round pick knows he is expected to fill in for Pitta.
“The loss of Dennis is big for the team,” Drew said after Wednesday’s practice at the team’s training facility in Owings Mills. “But I want to do what I can do to help the team also. I just try to prepare myself to take whatever role the team is giving me and be ready to play if my name is called. That’s all I can do, really.”
Drew has produced mixed results thus far. Perhaps because of his 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame, he sometimes tends to lumber while running pass-catching routes and has looked slow – which might be a product of running next to Dickson, who is one of the better athletes on the roster.
But Drew has looked solid in run-blocking, and coach John Harbaugh said Drew is continuing to develop.
“We’re going to find out if Davon Drew is a player for us, and I think he is,” Harbaugh said Wednesday. “Davon Drew has got all the skills. He’s come so far. He’s a guy that played one or two years of tight end at East Carolina. He’s come a long way as a pass-receiving tight end, but what we really want to determine is if he can be a blocking tight end for us. [He is a] big, strong guy, and that’ll probably come down to games as much as anything.”
Because he spent the majority of his first three seasons on the team’s practice squad, Drew is no longer eligible to find a spot there this season. But that’s fine with Drew.
“Practice squad should never be anyone’s goal,” he said. “I’m glad I don’t have any [eligibility] so that it’s not even in my mind.”
So it would seem that the pressure is on for Drew to make the active 53-man roster. But for now, he said his only focus is to demonstrate improvement as a tight end on a daily basis.
“It’s a good thing to know the system. I’m not going to say it’s not,” he said. “But like I said, I’m just trying to worry about what I have to do to make sure I’m here.”