When you think about what the Baltimore Ravens will have to replace in the departure of WR Anquan Boldin this offseason, the numbers are normally the first thing that comes to mind, but the biggest attribute that Boldin brought to the Ravens was the toughness and willingness to go over the middle of the field to pull in the tough grabs to keep the chains moving.
TE Dennis Pitta may be the guy that will step up and take over the middle of the field to replace the presence of Boldin and reel in those tough grabs that are desperately needed for this Ravens offense to run at its most efficient.
We all saw how Boldin, basically dominated in the playoffs, but let’s not get brainwashed on what he meant to this team throughout the regular season. Although he nearly cracked 1,000 yards receiving at 921, he led the team in receiving yards and catches, but only tallied four touchdowns. Now most of the regular season, the offense was ran under Cam Cameron, who everyone saw, had a lack of intrigue about throwing the football over between the numbers, so Boldin’s numbers could have been better. Once Jim Caldwell took over as offensive coordinator, you could see the transformation of this offense.
It can be debated on whether Torrey Smith or Boldin was the “number one” wide receiver, but in the end it does not matter as Boldin took over in the postseason, by making catches in heavy traffic and totaling four touchdowns.
So how do you replace that kind of production? Find a guy who can pretty much do the same thing, and that is exactly what Pitta can do for this team. If it was not Boldin running over the middle and making a tough catch, it was Pitta. Third on the team with 669 receiving yards, and second with 61 catches and seven touchdowns in the regular season, he continued to prove he is one of the more valuable tight ends in the league with just a just as impressive postseason where he reeled in 14 grabs, including three touchdowns during the Ravens Super Bowl run.
Pitta has shown that he can go over the middle and make the tough catches, just watch the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots where he took a shot, but held onto the football for a much needed first down. Dennis is going to show that he will be the number one option for quarterback Joe Flacco over the middle of the field and guys like Ed Dickson will have to evolve their game and become an outside threat from the tight end position, because fans should expect to see Pitta lined up as a wide out more often this upcoming season.
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