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mesaSteeler
11-05-2011, 10:35 PM
Ravensí tight ends create matchup problems for Steelers
By Matt Vensel / The Baltimore Sun | Saturday, November 5, 2011 | http://www.bostonherald.com | NFL Coverage


BALTIMORE -- Chuck Pagano has spent all week planning how to pound Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, slow wide receiver Mike Wallace and limit Rashard Mendenhall to less than 50 rushing yards against the Ravens for a fourth straight game.

But the defensive coordinator said heís glad he doesnít have to find a way to contain a pair of athletic, pass-catching tight ends such as Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. That problem belongs to Steelers defensive guru Dick LeBeau.

"You spread those guys out and you get them in space, itís a nightmare for the guy calling the defense," Pagano said, without the slightest hint of empathy.

Dickson and Pitta, in their second season with the Ravens, collectively had one of the most productive games of their young careers in last weekendís comeback win over the Arizona Cardinals. Each had a career-high six catches for 90 receiving yards combined as the Ravens came from 21 points down for a 30-27 victory. Quarterback Joe Flacco targeted tight ends 17 times.

The teamís "Diesel" package - two wide receivers, two tight ends and a running back - played a prominent role in the second half as the Ravens put Flacco in the shotgun, spread out the Cardinals and picked up the pace. Flacco completed 19 of 28 attempts for 238 yards after halftime.

"Obviously, having us out there on the field together created some mismatches," Pitta said as Dickson, whose locker is two stalls down, tried not to eavesdrop.

Added Dickson, who like Pitta is 6 feet 4: "Thatís the beauty of having two athletic guys like myself and Dennis Pitta out there. When we first got to Baltimore, our coaches told us that they envisioned us as versatile guys who are on the field at all times, whether we are running the ball or passing the ball."

They are likely to see a lot of action in Sunday nightís AFC North showdown at Heinz Field.

The Steelers enter Week 9 with the NFLís top-ranked pass defense, but in eight games, they have allowed 462 receiving yards to tight ends. Just seven teams have surrendered more.

In Baltimoreís 35-7 victory against Pittsburgh in Week 1, Dickson had five catches for 59 yards and Pitta caught two passes for 45. On Dicksonís third-quarter touchdown reception, he outran Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and slid under Flaccoís high-arching throw. Dickson called it a confidence-booster.

"That safety is going to be a Hall-of-Famer one day. Troy Polamalu, Iíve got a lot of respect for him," Dickson said. "And if I can get open against him, I can get open against anybody."

The New England Patriots [team stats] attacked Pittsburgh with two tight ends last weekend. The Steelers won, 25-17, but Rob Gronkowski had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards. Aaron Hernandez had a 1-yard touchdown reception. That duo was targeted 13 times by Tom Brady [stats].

The Patriots selected Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 draft and Hernandez in the fourth. That spring, the Ravens drafted Dickson out of Oregon in the third round and Pitta from Brigham Young a round later. In their rookie season, Dickson and Pitta had 12 total catches and one touchdown. This season, with Todd Heap in Arizona, they are producing as the Ravens had expected.

"Those guys are getting better, and I expect them to continue to grow," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "And youíre going to see them out there a lot."

Much of the talk at the Castle this week was centered on whether the Ravens would increase the use of the shotgun and no-huddle offense to make Flacco more comfortable. The two tight ends, who played in variations of the spread offense in college, say they are ready.

"Thatís kind of what the NFL has evolved to," said Pitta, who at BYU often lined up in the slot or out wide. "Itís all about getting the ball out of your hands quick and getting it to multiple guys and causing real problems. ... You have to have those hybrid tight ends that are able to block on the line but at the same time, be able to stretch the defense and catch the football."

And working in tandem, Dickson and Pitta hope to create matchup nightmares for opposing defensive coordinators.

"Itís pick your poison with us," Dickson said, trying to contain his grin.

tanda10506
11-06-2011, 12:29 AM
We need to play their TE's the way we played Hernandez and Gronkowski(who are better TE's). They do have a lot of threats, but Evans is out and we played the pats TE's great, and lately Flacco doesn't complete very many anyway.

fuzzy159
11-06-2011, 08:33 AM
Hernandez and Gronk are better than them lol...

truesteelerfan
11-06-2011, 09:16 AM
Their TE don't worry me until they get around the end zone- seems TE often get W I D E open on us often in those cases in the back of the zone. The rest of the game all I want to see us do is take Ray Rice out of the game, I'm ok with putting the game in Flacco hands.