Notebook: Heap injures calf

WESTMINSTER -- Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap limped off the practice field with a right calf injury Saturday morning at McDaniel College. The sight of Heap with his right calf wrapped up and heading into the Gill Center for treatment drew concern from fans.

Although this doesn't appear to be a long-term injury, the Ravens sorely missed Heap's presence last season. He was limited to six starts and 23 receptions for 239 yard and one touchdown last season due to a pulled hamstring and ended the season on injured reserve.

Heap has taken an inordinate amount of snaps due to injuries to the other tight ends.

Tight end Adam Bergen, a 6-foot-4, 267-pounder who was cut by the Arizona Cardinals during the offseason, ran with the starters ahead of Lee Vickers.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Mark Clayton is no longer wearing a protective sling on his right arm. He has a sprained shoulder after landing on it during practice a few days ago.

Clayton didn't rule out playing in the Ravens' preseason opener Thursday against the New England Patriots.

"I feel a lot better," Clayton said. "I feel good, so I think I'll be out there."

UP FOR GRABS: Ravens coach John Harbaugh has yet to declare a pecking order in the team's quarterback competition, and Troy Smith, Kyle Boller and rookie Joe Flacco have all taken turns with the first-string offense.

Smith is regarded as the favorite to start the season opener Sept. 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I think it's too early to be able to separate yet because we haven't had any game action," Harbaugh said. "Nobody has jumped ahead of the other guys in the live action or the drills significantly enough to say it's a 1, 2, 3. We've all got our opinions, but one thing is for certain, they've all gotten better."

INJURY UPDATE: Several players didn't practice besides Clayton and Heap.

That group includes: defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (sprained right medial collateral ligament) and Justin Bannan (undisclosed), wide receivers Demetrius Williams (left Achilles' tendon) and Patrick Carter (dislocated left shoulder), running backs Willis McGahee (left knee), Cory Ross (arm, toe) and P.J. Daniels (cramps), fullback Justin Green (left knee), safety Ed Reed (shoulder), tight ends Daniel Wilcox (offseason toe surgery) and Aaron Walker (left knee), offensive tackles Jared Gaither (sprained right ankle), Adam Terry (sprained left ankle) and Oniel Cousins (sprained right knee), nose guard Kelly Gregg (left knee), linebacker Dan Cody (right foot), cornerback Samari Rolle (bereavement) and linebacker Terrell Suggs (contract dispute).

Running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery expressed optimism that McGahee will play against New England .

"I can't say he won't work against the Patriots right now," Montgomery said. "Willis wants to participate, Willis wants to play. We'll see how next week unfolds and how he works and is running around.

"If he's doing things to our expectations and his, then I believe Willis wants to play in this game. It's a new offense, new coaching staff, new head coach. With the excitement and aura around here, I believe he will play in this ball game."

With Clayton and Williams out, Yamon Figures started opposite Derrick Mason with rookie Marcus Smith operating as the third wide receiver.

Williams has increased his activity, but didn't indicate a specific timetable for when he'll return.

"I need to get out there, but I've been doing a lot of chalk talks and trying to take those mental notes," Williams said. "It hurts not to be out there. I just want to get back as soon as possible, but I don't know when that's going to be."

Offensive tackle Joe Reitz (shoulder) and linebacker Gary Stills returned to practice.

QUICK HITS: Harbaugh said the team isn't inclined to shift right offensive guard Marshal Yanda back to right tackle at this point since Cousins is going to be back soon. "I don't think that's where we want to go, especially with the fact that we're going to get our tackles back and Oniel will be back soon," he said. "His injury is very minor. It will be good to see if we can develop some depth so that we can keep Marshal at guard." ... Linebacker Antwan Barnes got in a brief shoving match with Yanda with cornerback David Pittman and fullback Le'Ron McClain arguing. ... Safety Dawan Landry outleapt 6-foot-5 rookie wide receiver Ernie Wheelwright to intercept Troy Smith. ... Dwan Edwards started at defensive tackle as Trevor Pryce missed the first half of practice. ... Cornerback Fabian Washington limped off the field with a sore leg, but walked it off and was eventually able to run on the sideline. Later, he indicated that he's not hurt. ... The Ravens held an emergency drill at M&T Bank Stadium, simulating a terrorist attack with "Operation Purple Haze." with hundreds of volunteers on hand along with several team and city officials.

By Aaron Wilson

WESTMINSTER -- On the ninth day, the Baltimore Ravens rested as coach John Harbaugh canceled practices originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon and this morning at McDaniel College.

Following eight consecutive days of grueling two-a-day practices, the players were given some unexpected time off.

Harbaugh insisted that his decision wasn't influenced by the growing tide of injuries since launching training camp last week in Westminster.

"We have not built in any predetermined days off for a reason, because we want guys to understand that they don't have a day off," Harbaugh said. "They have earned it. These guys have worked hard morning after morning. They need the rest.

"We need to get them off their legs. We need to get them into the tub, get them home with their wives and kids for 24 hours. I'm proud of them. I'm really happy with the way they've worked."

If the Ravens hadn't taken the time off, their first scheduled day off was Aug. 8 following a preseason road game against the New England Patriots.

The Ravens will reassemble today for a 3 p.m. practice and hold four practices between Monday and Tuesday before traveling to New England on Wednesday.

Harbaugh said there has been an ebb and flow to how he has orchestrated his first camp as a head coach.

"I think we've kind of tapered off through camp," he said. "We push forward and pull back. Certainly, you're not going to be sprinting going into the game.

"We consider the game to be another practice. So, we're not trying to go into this game with our legs being 100 percent fresh. It's not going to happen. It's an exhibition game."

Harbaugh's goal throughout camp has been to break down his players physically and mentally, testing their will to try to build their resolve for the upcoming season.

"Our guys are doing what they need do at this stage, which is, with their legs pretty much shot, they're fighting through every practice and they're paying attention to technique and detail," Harbaugh said. "That's how you develop that muscle memory when you're fatigued. If you can do it when you're fatigued, you certainly can do it when you're fresh."

The decision to give the players a break was greeted with enthusiasm and speed as they hustled out of the team hotel to various destinations.

Rookie running back Ray Rice said he had a flight to catch, intending to travel home to New York to visit family.

"We've been putting in work, so this is really a nice surprise," Rice said. "I'm going to enjoy it, then get right back to work and concentrate on football."

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

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