Ravens' Heap, Taylor Return

<p>Without complaints regarding the lingering effects of back spasms that had kept him out of several football practices, Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap made his return count. Heap shoved strong safety Ed Reed to the ground in a red-zone drill to corral a touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Kyle Boller on Monday in Westminster.&nbsp;</p>

It was shades of last season when Heap made the Pro Bowl in his first season as the successor to Shannon Sharpe by constantly leaping over defenders. "Definitely, I've been feeling better every day," said Heap, who caught 68 passes for 836 yards and six touchdowns last season. "I decided to give it a go and it came out all right. That's a good sign. My back is still just a little tight." 

Meanwhile, as he predicted, receiver Travis Taylor managed to miss only one day of practice after spraining his ankle. Cornerback Corey Fuller knocked away a slant pass intended for Taylor followed by Fuller head-butting him and good-naturedly gloating over the play. Taylor responded. First, with some choice remarks of his own. Then, he caught a touchdown behind the middle of the secondary and informed Fuller of his exploits. When Taylor emphatically spiked the football, it ricocheted off the ground directly into cornerback Chris McAlister's face mask. "After what Corey did, I couldn't go out like that," Taylor said. "It was just a little friendly deal. It's all good. I didn't mean for the spike to get up in Chris' face." 

Standing a few feet away, McAlister said: "What did you say about me?" Taylor: "I didn't mean to do it." As for the ankle, Taylor said he has experienced several sprains in the past and was surprised at the progress he made from Monday, when he could barely walk, to Tuesday's practice. "It worked out tremendously," Taylor said. "It's just a little sore now." 

MEDICAL UPDATE: Cornerback Tom Knight, who already has a splint on his injured thumb, was carted off the field Tuesday morning. It turned out to not be a serious injury, though. He was diagnosed with a strained left hamstring, not the right hamstring that was torn and kept him out all of last season. Knight is a top candidate to become the Ravens' nickel back, but the coaching staff remains concerned about the former Arizona Cardinals' first-round pick's tendency to be injury-prone. Plus, the Ravens want to upgrade their depth overall at the cornerback position after shifting Gary Baxter to free safety following Fuller's acquisition. "It's always a concern," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "We'll address it as best as we can with people in this camp or out." Alvin Porter will play in place of Knight, who is listed as day-to-day. 

Inside linebacker Bernardo Harris underwent successful surgery on his broken left fibula Tuesday and is projected to require anywhere from nine weeks to three months to rehabilitate the injury. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Peter Boulware missed practice with a sore neck and is listed as day-to-day. X-rays didn't reveal any structural damage. Rookie tight end Trent Smith, who remains out for the season with a broken tibia, had successful surgery and remains in the hospital. Return specialists Hugh Smith (shoulder) and Lamont Brightful (hyperextended knee) both practiced without limitations. 

Linebacker Ed Hartwell, who got poked in the eye Monday, returned to practice. Fullback Harold Morrow (sprained medial collateral ligament) is coming around quickly. "My lateral movement isn't all that great right now, but I'm surprised because it's healing faster than I had anticipated," Morrow said. "If it keeps healing this way, I could be ready this weekend." Offensive tackle Orlando Brown, who has an injured thigh muscle above his knee, was held out of practice for precautionary reasons. His knee flared up, but it's not believed to be serious. 

The remainder of the injured list who didn't practice: receiver Todd Devoe (hamstring), center Mike Flynn (knee), safety Anthony Mitchell (sprained ankle), receiver Frank Sanders (dislocated toes), linebacker Cornell Brown (hamstring), receiver Javin Hunter (ruptured Achilles tendon), running back Musa Smith (knee), punter Dave Zastudil (hamstring) along with Harris, Boulware, Morrow and Smith. Hunter is out for the season. Mitchell said he expects to return as early as today.

JACK OF ALL TRADES: There aren't many spots on the football field that defensive end Adalius Thomas is unwilling to experiment. He has played outside linebacker and defensive tackle and said he's even willing to try safety or cornerback. The 270-pound Thomas played outside linebacker Monday in Boulware's absence. "I play football," Thomas said. "I want to be the only player who plays all 11 positions in one game: versatility. I'll leave the kicking up to Matt Stover."


Ravens Insider Top Stories