Valuable Heap wants to keep improving


Tight end will let others determine his recognition


October 21, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

After scoring both of his team's touchdowns in the Ravens' 17-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday, tight end Todd Heap would not admit that his reputation is growing in NFL circles.

"I don't know," Heap said. "Everybody else's job is to see how that goes. I'm just trying to go out and make plays. I can always play better. There are a lot of things that I can keep improving on as the season goes on, and I feel like I have been."

A first-year starter in his second season, Heap has gone from an underused weapon the first two games to the Ravens' primary receiving threat during the past month.

He tied for a team high with four catches for 39 yards against Jacksonville, including a 20-yard touchdown in which he bulldozed his way through defenders starting at the 5-yard line and stretched into the end zone.

"I was trying to make a move on that guy," Heap said. "He was the only guy there to stop me from getting in the end zone. All the receivers, I saw them blocking out in front of me, so I knew if I beat this guy, it should be a touchdown. I just tried to do whatever I could to get in."

The Ravens tried twice to match Heap against a smaller cornerback and go deep, but were unsuccessful both times. It looked as though the ball barely slipped through Heap's hands on the second play of the game, leaving the 2001 first-round pick with something to lament.

"Those are plays that I want to make, I'm used to making and that I should make," Heap said. "I just hope that we keep putting it up there, and I'm going to put the pressure on myself to make those plays."

"Coming out, the big thing with Todd was could he be a point-of-attack guy, or could he be a move guy?" coach Brian Billick said. "His blocking has been outstanding. He's as complete a tight end as there is in the league, albeit a young one."

Demps makes the play

Safety Will Demps counted his game-ending interception as one of the eight plays his coaches ask him to make during a game.

Demps picked off Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell at the Ravens' 1-yard line and ran the clock out. Brunell had marched the Jaguars to the Ravens' 25 with 10 seconds left.

"It was just one of those plays I have to make at that position," Demps said.

Kicked-off coach

Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin showed little faith in kicker Hayden Epstein.

Coughlin shunned field goals three times from inside the 31, including what would have been a 42-yarder early in the fourth quarter that would have cut the Ravens' lead to seven.

"Coughlin wanted to do what he wanted to do," Ravens linebacker Peter Boulware said. "It is our responsibility to stop them, whether they want to go for it on fourth down or kick a field goal. That's what we have to do as a defense."

Said Coughlin: "We didn't kick the ball very well, we didn't kick off well, we didn't kick field goals very well, we didn't punt the ball very well. We had chances to score and we didn't do that."

On fourth-and-two at the Ravens' 12 on Jacksonville's fourth possession, Coughlin chose to pass, but the completion gained no yards and the Ravens took possession.

Later in the second quarter, on fourth-and-four, he went with Epstein, who missed a 39-yard field-goal attempt.

On fourth-and-12 at the Ravens' 31 in the third quarter, Coughlin chose to punt, but Chris Hanson kicked it into the end zone for a touchback. And on fourth-and-seven at the Ravens' 24 in the fourth quarter, Coughlin watched a pass fall incomplete rather than give Epstein a try.

"We missed a 40-yarder -- in my opinion, right now with him, that's a long field goal. I was not going to do that at that time after missing a 40-yarder earlier," Coughlin said. "So I feel like we have a range."

Epstein, whose late 22-yarder pulled the Jaguars within 17-10 with 4:36 to play, said he is not worried about his job and didn't agree with Coughlin on what his range is.

"I'm not worried about it. Him going for it on fourth down, he makes the decisions," said Epstein, who has yet to connect from beyond 40 yards. "I feel I can [kick 50-yard field goals]."

Harris pitches in

When Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis went down with a shoulder injury against the Cleveland Browns, it gave reserve Bernardo Harris an opportunity to play last week at Indianapolis.

Yesterday, that playing time increased.

The eight-year veteran recorded nine tackles, deflected a pass and intercepted a pass that set up Matt Stover's field goal with 9:16 left in the third quarter.

"This week, I knew that Jacksonville was a more physical team. They like to run the ball, so I knew that my chances to play today were greater," Harris said. "It was fun to go out there and play in a physical football game and it was fun to help this team win."

Extra duty for Stover

The impact of the Ravens' offensive line woes reached the kicking ranks. Stover, who normally relaxes until it's time to kick field goals, had to handle kickoff duties yesterday when J.R. Jenkins was deactivated to make more room for linemen.

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