Heap makes healthy return

<p>ATLANTA - The operative plan for Todd Heap wasn't overly ambitious. Hampered by back spasms for the majority of training camp, the Baltimore Ravens' Pro Bowl tight end eased his way back into practice this week once the sensations of pain subsided.

The Ravens said they would continue to take a cautious approach with Heap entering Saturday night's preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons and see how he felt during warmups at the Georgia Dome.

 Heap started and wound up erasing any lingering doubts about his back in his season debut with three receptions for 24 yards in the first quarter without any flare-up of his back in a 13-10 victory over the Falcons. "It's always good to come back and get some meaningful reps in," said Heap, who caught 68 passes for 836 yards and six touchdowns last season. "This was my first game back and I was ready to hit somebody." 

Heap secured the football as ably as usual, but didn't appear to run as well as he normally does after the catch. The 6-foot-5, 252-pounder did show off his trademark leaping ability on his longest reception of the night, a 15-yarder he grabbed over safety Gerald McBurrows and linebacker Matt Stewart. "It's a totally different feel to get your hands on the ball during a game," Heap said. "It takes a lot more focus. It was great to get back in the flow and get ready for the season."

 INACTIVES/INJURIES: The Ravens shuffled their lineup considerably because of their lengthy injury list. Plus, tight end John Jones suffered a concussion and a strained neck, defensive end Jarret Johnson sprained his shoulder and is probable for next week's game against the Redskins cornerback Corey Fuller suffered a groin strain against the Falcons that's not believed to be serious. Baltimore held out outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, offensive tackle Orlando Brown (knee), punter Dave Zastudil (hamstring), center Mike Flynn (knee), running back Musa Smith (knee), fullback Harold Morrow (knee), return specialist Lamont Brightful (knee), receiver Frank Sanders (toes), linebacker Cornell Brown (hamstring), cornerback Tom Knight (hamstring), linebacker Bernardo Harris (broken leg), receiver Todd Devoe (hamstring), tight end Trent Smith (broken leg) and receiver Javin Hunter (ruptured Achilles' tendon). Trent Smith and Hunter are out for the entire season. The Falcons' most prominent players who didn't play were receiver Brian Finneran and safety Cory Hall

HOMECOMING: Running back Jamal Lewis, safety Anthony Mitchell and offensive tackle Lawrence Smith all attended high school in Atlanta. Lewis rushed for 32 yards on eight carries in the first half. "Great to come home and play," Lewis said. "I love to talk a little trash and hit hard. I am 100 percent ready to play the season." Kicker J.R. Jenkins (Loganville), offensive guard Jason Thomas (Savannah) and wide receiver Marcus Robinson (Ft. Valley) are Georgia natives, too. Musa Smith, the Ravens' third-round pick from the University of Georgia, rushed for 2,202 yards and 19 touchdowns as an All-Southeastern Conference selection for the Bulldogs. 

QUICK HITS: Ravens wideout Marcus Robinson was flagged for offensive pass interference and a false start penalty in the first half. For the second consecutive week, he dropped a pass from Chris Redman and finished the half with no catches. Robinson did break up a potential interception by Ray Buchanan on a deep pass thrown by Redman. … Alvin Porter replaced Fuller in the second quarter and intercepted, Doug Johnson, Michael Vick's replacement, with a return of 16 yards. Fuller had a rough night between the injury and being beaten on a 42-yard fly route by MarTay Jenkins. ... Nose guard Kelly Gregg had five tackles and a pass deflection by halftime. 

YOUTH RECOGNIZED: The Ravens and Gov. Robert Ehrlich's office of service and volunteerism are partnering for an honor rows program at each home game. Youth groups will be awarded up to 150 tickets, T-shirts and being announced on the SmartVision screen during the third quarter. 

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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