Ed Dickson signed with the Carolina Panthers this offseason with the hope the team would pass to two tight ends once again.
The two tight end sets worked well for Carolina in 2011 with Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, and Dickson was set to bring that back to Carolina after his four years in Baltimore.
Through three games, he’s gotten one pass thrown his way, but Olsen leads the team in receptions.
“I’m a veteran and I know what to expect,” Dickson said. “When you’ve got somebody ballin’ out like Greg, you’ve got to feed your beast the ball. It’s a long season, and I know that. I’m waiting my time and doing the things I need to do. I’m going to be a key factor going into later games in the season, so it’s not all negative.”
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The lone chance Dickson has gotten this season to make a play came on the second play of the second half against the Lions. Newton saw Dickson to his right and threw a short pass to the 6-foot-4 tight end.
The ball came out hotter than Dickson expected and he dropped it.
“It’s one of those things that you have to see it coming out of his hand,” Dickson said. “Me and Cam joked about it (in the huddle) and he said, ‘What happened?’ I said, ‘It whizzed past my face.’ He said no problem and we went on to the next one.”
That drop didn’t put Dickson in the doghouse. The passes just haven’t come his way.
Olsen has taken nearly every snap as the team’s No. 1 tight end, and through three games he leads the team in catches with 19 and is second in receiving yards behind Kelvin Benjamin with 224 yards.
Meanwhile, Dickson has seen the field on just 64 offensive snaps, less than one-third of all Carolina offensive snaps this season.
This year has been a far cry from his career numbers. Dickson has 111 career receptions for 1,178 yards and seven touchdowns.
Until this season, Dickson had at least one target in every game he played. This year he’s had two games with zero targets.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants to use Dickson more, but he admitted he and the coaching staff got caught up in how well the receivers have played.
Carolina has gotten good production from their three-receiver sets, Rivera said, and that leaves Dickson the odd man out.
“Yeah, I’d like to see us use Ed a little more. Has Ed worked himself up in the position where we should? Yes, he has,” Rivera said. “And that’s something that the coaches and I have to make sure that we don’t forsake a player because this is the flow of the game. Sometimes you have to fight that urge, whether you’re on the offensive side or defensive side, and fight those urges that you want to go back to what you’re comfortable with or go back to what’s worked.”
Dickson said the Panthers’ coaches have picked his brain this week for his knowledge of the Ravens, with whom he won Super Bowl XLVII.
There’s been less talk about Dickson returning to Baltimore than Carolina playing Steve Smith for the first time, but Dickson certainly has emotions going back to the city that drafted him in 2010.
And he’s not hiding his excitement for the potential of getting his first catch of 2014 in M&T Bank Stadium.
“Without a doubt,” Dickson said. “I’m not shying away from that.”