Taylor returning to Ravens' lineup
With Taylor back, Hymes is relegated to third wide receiver duties after an impressive string. It will be Taylor's first complete football game in nearly nine months, a period dating back to the Ravens' playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans in January. "It's been such a long time, it feels like it's been a whole year since I've played a full game," said Taylor, a 2000 first-round draft pick in the final year of his contract who has caught one pass for five yards this season. "So, I'm excited to be back. "I'm finally healthy to the point where I know it's not going to be a problem. Whenever I get my chance to get in there and make a play, that's what I'm going to do." Taylor's return coincides with the beginning of Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis' two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. Plus, the Ravens will again be without the services of Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap because of a sprained ankle. "Jamal is such a big part of our offense, so we need to pick it up," Taylor said of a passing game that's averaging 116.4 yards per contest. "We have to get the passing game going. There's no way around that fact." Taylor is likely to play 35 to 40 snaps against the Bills' eighth-ranked defense, reducing opportunities for Hymes as veteran Kevin Johnson will start as usual at flanker. During Taylor and Heap's convalescence, Hymes became the leading receiver with 16 catches for 226 yards and the Ravens' only two touchdown receptions. His catches of 57 and 38 yards represent the Ravens' two longest completions besides Lewis dashing 46 yards on a swing pass. "I'm fine with it," Hymes said of not starting. "I felt like I proved something to myself, that I could handle a major role. I'm still going to play a lot even with Travis back. Not starting doesn't bother me." Taylor is the Ravens' fastest and best blocking wide receiver, an important factor for a team with the second-ranked running game that accounts for 57 percent of the team's offensive snaps. Inconsistent hands have curtailed his production, limiting him to 171 career catches for 2,342 yards and 15 scores. Meanwhile, Johnson said he's unconcerned with his meager statistics since Baltimore traded a fourth-round pick to Jacksonville to acquire him. Johnson has caught just 10 passes for 124 yards, a pace that pales in comparison to his first five NFL seasons when he averaged 57 receptions a year. At this rate, the former Cleveland starter would post a career-low 32 catches. "Obviously, we want to catch the ball and have more production, but if this is what it takes for us to get to the Super Bowl, I'm all for it," Johnson said. Johnson defended struggling quarterback Kyle Boller in what has become a regular exercise for the organization after the second-year starter's three interception outing in a win over the Washington Redskins. Boller has a 61.3 passer rating, and dips to 41.9 in the fourth quarter where he's passed for only 147 yards. "It's not on one guy here," Johnson said. "It's a relatively collective effort. We can't put all the blame on the quarterback. We have to realize that there's going to come a day when we have to bring more to the table." With Taylor back, at least Boller will be able to throw to a receiver he spent several months with to develop chemistry and timing. "It's awesome," Boller said. "He was a guy that I clicked with in the off-season, and I feel that we can really make things happen out there." NOTES: Ravens coach Brian Billick indicated that newly-signed wideout Patrick Johnson will be deactivated for the Bills game. … The Ravens made no changes to their injury report, and center Mike Flynn (shoulder, doubtful) won't make his season debut until next week against the Philadelphia Eagles. … Former principal Ravens owner Art Modell is on the early list of 89 nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. … The Bills ruled out center Trey Teague (knee) Friday, meaning he'll miss his third game in a row. Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times and ravensinsider.com
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