Training camp is a time when teams start to come together and help not only each other come together, but the team as well. Some camps might be harder than others, especially when it comes to earning a spot on the roster and keeping a job on an NFL team.
Heading into training camp, the tight end position seems to be one of the stronger positions on the offense — if not the strongest. With valuable players such as Dennis Pitta and newly added Owen Daniels, it should be no surprise to see this as a position of value for the Ravens when the regular season rolls around.
It’s obvious that the Ravens main guy at tight end is Dennis Pitta, who just recently signed a new deal with the Ravens that will lock him up for the next five years. Perhaps nobody was happier about this news than quarterback, Joe Flacco, who, over the years, has developed an impressive rapport with Pitta. Coming off a hip injury last season, Pitta was only able to play in the final four games, but in those four games, he proved to be as reliable as ever and again served as a security blanket for Flacco, despite not being at full health.
Pitta may not be as athletic as Jimmy Graham or Julius Thomas, but he is extremely consistent at both catching passes and blocking, which only adds to his overall value. Plus, it isn’t as if Pitta is running in molasses — his athleticism is still overlooked, though, and it is more than adequate.
The next man up is former Texans starter, Owen Daniels.
Daniels too, was injured much of last season, causing him to miss substantial critical playing time. However, during the times he did play, he showed his trademark poise and great hands, which are only two of a handful of reasons Gary Kubiak and the organization have brought him over. Pitta and Daniels aren’t dissimilar; even though they wont “wow” you with their athleticism, they still find a way to make plays all over the field.
Daniels heads into training camp as the “number two tight end,” but Kubiak’s system often features two tight end sets, which means Daniels will get a significant amount of playing time, barring any injuries prior to the season. One could even go as far as saying Daniels will occupy one of two starting tight end spots in the Ravens offense.
Third on the depth chart is rookie, Crockett Gillmore, out of Colorado State.
This rookie likely won’t contribute right out of the gate for the Ravens, unless anyone mentioned above gets injured. With some work, and a year or two under his belt, Gillmore has as much potential as any, especially learning from the likes of Pitta and Daniels. A natural blocker, Gillmore has also displayed the ability to make swift catches when the ball is thrown his way. Although I don’t see Gillmore making a push for a higher spot on the depth chart, I can definitely see him being a key contributor for run plays and on special teams, as coaches can’t stop raving about his blocking ability.
Note from KO: This could be the ‘Year of the Tight End’ in Baltimore. Something to look out for in training camp is how reporters are talking about the speed with which the tight ends are playing. Not so much foot speed, but mental speed off the line and into the defense. Kubiak’s offense if very timing oriented, so the success hinges on everybody moving at the appropriate time. The addition of Owen Daniels was absolutely crucial for the overall development of this offense, and the Pitta-Daniels combo could (and should) be the most productive tight end duo in Ravens history.
Also, while not technically a “tight end,” fullback/h-back, Kyle Juszczyk, should be a big contributor on offense this season. Kubiak said that he would be used in a James Casey-esque role, and he postured that Juice could accrue over 50 receptions this season out of the backfield and around the field.