Pitta And Dickson Don't Mind Sharing Room Or Knowledge
By Krystina Lucido
Whether the practice field belongs to Western Maryland College or McDaniel, whether it’s Johnny or Joe lining up under center, nothing much changes year to year in training camp. And while today's players may get paid more than their 1960s counterparts, some old-school traditions never change.
|Dennis Pitta (left) and Ed Dickson, both tight ends chosen in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Ravens, room together, play together and compete together. (Sabina Moran/PressBox)
Living with a teammate during training camp and rookie "hazing" are just two of the traditions that have crossed generational lines. And while it may seem archaic to pair post-collegiate, professional athletes into a hotel or dorm room together, the amount of learning and amity that forms during this time is paramount to the glue that bonds and leads teams to championships.
Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, both tight ends drafted by the Ravens in subsequent rounds this past offseason, became fast friends in OTAs. Not knowing each other prior to camp, Dickson and Pitta bonded over their shared first-time experience there.
"It's just good to have someone to lean on," Pitta said. "Someone who's going through exactly what you're going through. We're both first time going through this process so it's nice to have someone that can relate to that."
"We'll be the same roommates throughout the year," said Dickson. "We were OTA roommates and now we're in camp and we're roommates. We're used to each other, kind of don’t want to move to anyone else."
Most likely because, in addition to having someone to lean on in discussing the general ups and downs of being a rookie, the pair also have someone off whom they can bounce on-the-field issues.
|Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson
"He's a very smart person," said Dickson of Pitta. "We just put our minds together. If I don’t know something or he doesn’t know something, we think together and we're like, 'OK, we learned this.' We look through our notes and we help each other."
Bennie Thompson, a Ravens' defensive back who made the move with the team from Cleveland, remembers his roommate from 1997, and his recollection of the experience sounds eerily similar.
"Cornell (Brown) and I were really good friends because of the fact that Cornell basically played on every special teams unit that I played on," Thompson said. "He was right next to me so we kind of worked off each other and kind of knew each other.
"That's the one thing about it -- camaraderie is the most important thing. With Cornell, he knew what I was going to do and I knew what he was going to do."
However, it would seem counterproductive to an outsider for Dickson and Pitta to be able to discuss their on-field successes and transgressions so openly since the two play the same position. Almost identical in strength and build -- Dickson is a 6-foot-4, 249-pound Oregon product and Pitta, a 6-foot-4, 245-pounder, played a mere 800 miles away at BYU -- what if one starts over the other?
"That's football," Pitta said. "You're always competing with somebody. We've got a high-powered offense and a lot of weapons. I think there's a spot for both of us in this offense. We're not exactly competing for the same spot, but it’s good to push each other and be competitive."
"There's room for two tight ends on this team, the H-back position coming out of the backfield and another tight end," said Dickson. "So we're both battling every day and working really hard, competing against each other and the other tight ends."
If anything, the two are gaining an advantage over their other competition because they are able to think with two heads instead of one. It seems a natural progression for roommates to become friends and begin to swap tips and work through schemes together.
"Definitely," Thompson said. "You can get in the room and you talk about things that you see on tape, or you talk about things that happened in practice and you can go over it and discuss it and you come up with some ideas.
"Unlike not having that same roommate in the room, you can't talk to the guy if he's an offensive player and say, 'Hey, how can I make this better or how can I make that better?' because offensive players don’t really understand what defensive players are trying to get accomplished just like most defensive players don’t understand what the offensive players are trying to get accomplished."
Thus, it would only make sense these seemingly-identical rookie tight ends would end up in that room at the Best Western in Westminster together. And while squeezing into a hotel room with another male equally as large and muscular may not seem the most alluring proposition when entering your first professional job, it seems it can only improve an individual player's career and the team's camaraderie.
"Right now you just feel like your body's about the drop to the ground, but you keep pushing and keep working because you realize that goal you have in mind," Dickson said. "We're going to keep pushing each other to get better every day. Even if we don’t feel like getting up in the morning, the good part is I have him pushing me to get up and me pushing him to get up."
Issue 152: August 2010