Notebook: Heap on the mend

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap could be back on the field Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, according to coach Brian Billick. After having his Pro Bowl tight end sidelined with a hamstring injury during the Ravens' 9-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, Billick expressed optimism Monday that Heap is likely to return this week.

Quinn Sypniewski was the lone tight end to play in San Francisco with Heap hurt and backup Daniel Wilcox out with a sprained toe.

"I'm pleased that we got out of there with a win without having to press Todd into duty," Billick said. "That doubles the chances of him being healthier and ready to go this weekend."

Heap opted to sit out after testing his leg out during warmup drills. He informed Billick that he could have probably started if it had been a playoff game.

Meanwhile, the Ravens are concerned about offensive tackle Adam Terry, who sprained his left ankle during the second quarter and was on crutches afterward.

Billick referred to Terry's injury as "the worst of the bunch"

"Adam's is the most serious," Billick added. "Right now, he seems to be the one that would be most in doubt for Sunday."

Billick acknowledged that Terry's injury could prompt a roster move if All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Ogden, who has missed the past four games, remains out with a turf toe injury.

Billick seemed to hint that Ogden could possibly return this week, although he has previously said the 10-time Pro Bowl selection would be a game-time decision only for him to not even attempt to play prior to kickoff.

If Terry and Ogden are both out, then rookie Jared Gaither would likely start his first NFL game. The Ravens could also promote tackle Mike Kracalik from the practice squad, which would require them to cut someone from the active roster.

"Fortunately, we've got a little latitude," Billick said. "We'll have to see again how J.O. is progressing. That will be a key factor. We'll fill in where we can."

Quarterback Steve McNair emerged unscathed, and didn't further aggravate his nagging groin pull.

"I think we got through the game as healthy as he's been," Billick said. "I don't think he tweaked the groin at any point during the game."

Center Mike Flynn was scheduled to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam Monday after spraining his right knee. His injury isn't considered to be extremely serious because he was able to walk and was ready to play on an emergency basis.

Billick remained noncommittal regarding cornerback Samari Rolle, who has missed the past three games with an undisclosed illness.

When asked if Rolle might return this week, Billick replied: "I hope so. I apologize for being so vague. It's a little like the pregnant wife: 'Is it today?'

"After a while, they get tired of you asking. But he's progressing and hopefully, by the end of the week, we'll know."

SHUFFLING THE DECK: The Ravens had planned to play center-guard Chris Chester at tight end Sunday until Flynn got hurt.

Chester was a Super Prep All-American tight end growing up in Tustin, Calif., and played tight end for three seasons at Oklahoma until he gained sixty pounds and converted to the offensive line as a senior.

"When Chester was in at center, we only had the one tight end," Billick said. "That stretched us a little bit and we'll have to find a way to address that notwithstanding what Mike's condition is.

"Chris Chester was that guy. We'll have to find someone else to do that depending upon the health of the tight ends as well."

Chester started the first four games at right guard, but was unseated Sunday by rookie first-round pick Ben Grubbs. Grubbs had been rotating with Chester, receiving more snaps each week.

"We were going to go with Ben Grubbs for the specific reason that not only Ben is playing well, but it was going to give Chris Chester a chance to focus more on the center position," Billick said. "It was a good thing because obviously he was called upon and did an excellent job."

LEADING THE LEAGUE: Wide receiver Derrick Mason leads the NFL with 44 receptions, leading a ball-control attack with 372 receiving yards.

The two-time Pro Bowl selection is on pace for an NFL-record 140 catches and 1,190 yards. He's four catches ahead of San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates.

However, Mason is only averaging 8.5 yards per catch as Baltimore rarely throws deep.

PASS RUSH: For the first time in weeks, the front seven made an impact rushing the quarterback.

Linebackers Bart Scott and Jarret Johnson along with nose guard Kelly Gregg combined to sack Trent Dilfer three times.

Johnson is now tied with cornerback Corey Ivy for the team lead in sacks with two.

"They dominated," Billick said. "They did a phenomenal job."

BUILDING THEM UP: As the Ravens prepare to take on the winless Rams (0-5), Billick is already delivering a motivational message about the potential pitfalls of playing against a team with virtually nothing to lose.

He did lay it on a little thick, though. "This is the absolute biggest challenge we've had to date, for all the reasons you can imagine," Billick said. "First off, they are a very talented team. They're a desperate team right now.

"Obviously, when you're in this league and you're in that situation, it's a desperate time. This is as dangerous a circumstance, as dangerous a team as we've played so far."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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