While many Ravens fans and coaches were probably delighted by the return of tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta to Saturday’s practice, one might wonder how their presence impacted Billy Bajema, the journeyman who has started in each of the team’s past two preseason contests.
None, according to Bajema.
“We’re in training-camp mode, and we’re just doing everything,” Bajema said after Saturday’s session at the team’s practice facility in Owings Mills. “When the season starts, I’m sure the coaches will have roles for everybody on the roster. The offense will be catered to the strengths of different players, but right now, I’m just doing everything that I can in every aspect of the game to be the best tight end I can be and help the team the best that I can.”
Despite being signed by the team on Aug. 1, Bajema has quickly leapfrogged Davon Drew to the top of the depth chart. After finishing a game against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 17 with zero catches, Bajema was targeted five times by quarterback Joe Flacco and grabbed three balls for 26 yards in Thursday night’s 48-17 rout of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The remaining tight ends on the roster, Drew and rookies Matt Balasavage and Bruce Figgins, have combined for five receptions for 34 yards. Bajema said he’s hopeful that he’s earned the trust of the coaching staff.
“I’ve tried – from the day I got here – to get in the playbook and show them that I know what I’m doing, to show them that I can play and do things to help the team win,” he said. “Whether it’s in the run game or passing game or special teams, anything I can do to help the team win, that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
History would appear to be on Bajema's side. In the four years that John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron have been the team’s respective head coach and offensive coordinator, the Ravens has retained three tight ends each season.
Still, Bajema could be a casualty of final cuts this Friday. If Dickson and Pitta return – as they have insisted – in time for the regular-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 10, the team might not retain a third tight end if there are other positions lacking depth.
That may be a legitimate concern, but it’s one that Bajema said he is not entertaining.
“We’ve got another week of training camp and another preseason game,” he said. “So my focus is completely on the next practice and the next day. I’m just staying in the moment and giving everything that I’ve got, and hopefully, if I do that and give my very best, everything will work out in the end.”Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times