Ravens' Jones is a secret weapon

OWINGS MILLS - Terry Jones moves quite rapidly for a supposedly oversized decoy. Cast as the Baltimore Ravens' blocking tight end, Jones is far from lumbering despite his blockish build. During Tuesday's passing camp, Jones regularly dashed behind the secondary on deep routes, gathering speed with each step like a runaway truck. He corralled several passes in stride and caught free safety Will Demps guessing on one reception he took to the end zone.

Although Todd Heap is a Pro Bowl tight end designated again for an intricate role in the Ravens' passing game, Jones represents much more than just his bulky counterpart.

"Terry has got a complete game," Heap said. "He runs great routes. He has great hands. He also has the ability to block whatever guy they put in front of him. He understands his role and he's a great guy to have at the end of the line."

Jones' primary responsibility is blocking. And he's well-equipped for in-line grappling at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds with a significant background in weight training as the son of the University of Alabama strength coach, Terry Jones, Sr.

Jones caught 11 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown last season. He welcomes it when defenders stereotype him for his reputation as a pure blocker.

"Man, I like when they do that," said Jones, whose father was a teammate of Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome at Alabama. "I can get down the field, but the main thing I try to do first is just catch the ball. I just want as many of those opportunities to touch the ball as I can get."

Because the Ravens plan to employ a variety of double tight end formations, Jones and Heap will work in tandem as masters of disguise. The main idea behind all the deception is to mask where Heap is going.

Occasionally, Heap will be split out wide as a receiver, motion away from the line as a slot receiver, or line up at fullback as a lead blocker or a potential target out of the backfield.

Their dual presence in games could include everything from the traditional I-formation to one-back sets, to complicated four-wide receiver alignments.

That's to keep defenses off-balance while ascertaining where Heap will go, rendering them unable to set up favorable coverage schemes.

"We're going to do a lot to disguise things and get matchups, even flexing Todd out to keep people honest," Jones said. "We want to hide what we're doing as much as possible."

In his first season as a starter, Heap replaced Shannon Sharpe and caught 68 passes for 836 yards and six touchdowns. The Ravens envision even greater production from him in the future. And the coaching staff is counting on Jones to lend greater flexibility to their offensive sets. They plan on reaping a lot of dividends from their investment of a fifth-round pick a year ago.

"That heightens the importance of a Terry Jones," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Terry in a two tight-end configuration could be huge for us. He's got better speed than people thought. "There are going to be plenty of holes for him to fill in, and he could have a substantial number of catches for us."

Behind Heap and Jones, the Ravens have veteran John Jones and rookie Trent Smith vying for the third-string position. Jones is an accomplished blocker and special-teams standout who's coming off toe surgery that will keep him out until training camp. Smith is an adept receiver, a seventh-round pick from the University of Oklahoma who needs more strength.

"It's going to be a really competitive group," Heap said.

While Heap is going to be more inclined and suited to receiving duties, Jones doesn't mind the physical confrontations along the line of scrimmage.

Whether that means wrestling with a massive defensive lineman or tracking down a swift linebacker, he relishes the contact.

"Actually, I like doing the dirty work," Jones said. "It gives me a chance to showcase one of my strengths."

NOTES: Free safety Anthony Mitchell confirmed that he has signed his one-year tender offer of $605,000. Defensive end Adalius Thomas, the team's lone remaining unsigned restricted free agent, said he plans to sign an identical one-year tender soon. "I'm here," Thomas said. "As far as I'm concerned, I'm signed. It's just paperwork. … T.J. McCreight has been promoted to national scout from area scout. Joe Hortiz, who used to scout the Northeast region for the Ravens, has shifted to schools in the Southeast with former personnel assistants Joe Douglas and Chad Alexander, scouting the West and Northeast, respectively. … The Ravens had former Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl offensive tackle Tunch Ilkin visit camp as a consultant to demonstrate blocking techniques to their linemen. …The defense continues to mix and match personnel in their secondary with Gary Baxter working at free safety and Corey Fuller playing cornerback.

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