Backup tight ends keep Heap in mind


Pierce, Wilcox replicate Pro Bowl pick's numbers

thumbs-up for indoor field

August 07, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Todd Heap's absence during last night's scrimmage apparently motivated the other tight ends to do their best impersonation of him.

Combining for 11 catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, Brett Pierce and Daniel Wilcox looked much like the Pro Bowl tight end who sat out with a minor knee contusion, helping to lead the offense to a 23-19 win over the defense.

Pierce, at one point, was Kordell Stewart's go-to guy. During one series, Stewart threw to Pierce on three straight attempts. Pierce also converted two third downs.

"I thought I played pretty well," said Pierce, an undrafted rookie who had seven of the catches. "I ran some decent routes. A lot of times, it was just happening to find a hole in the defense. A lot of it was play calling and me being in the right place at the right time.

"You get that first catch under your belt, and everything goes a little more smooth after that. That's definitely a factor, especially in a new environment like this."

Wilcox ended the scrimmage with a flurry. He hauled in a 30-yard reception, then a 12-yard touchdown over the middle of the field on the game's final play, giving the offense the victory.

"I wanted to do a lot better," said Wilcox, who has had stints with Tampa Bay and the New York Jets over the past three years. "I wish I would have had Brett's game. To me, he was the hero."

"Can't nobody replace Todd. Todd is Todd, and all the rest of us are basically here to add on and make Todd's job easier."

The rest of the tight ends, actually, are competing for that third spot behind Heap and Terry Jones.

Trent Smith was the favorite heading into camp, but he has yet to practice and is still recovering from a broken leg that kept him out all last year. His return date is undetermined.

After last night's scrimmage, he may need to get back sooner than later. Wilcox especially appears to be closing the gap.

"Dan Wilcox continues to impress," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

Players like new home

The Ravens practiced for the first time at the indoor field at their new training facility in Owings Mills yesterday morning.

The complex, which has the same artificial turf as M&T Bank Stadium, still smelled of crushed tire, but players seem to like it.

"I know the players were excited to see it," Billick said. "We'd been talking about it for quite a while, and this was the first time that made it real for them. They can see what a great facility it's going to be. It's going to be a great addition for us when we get into the weather months and the inability to get outside."

Hymes back in game

It has been a long road for Randy Hymes, but the lanky receiver could finally exhale last night after hauling in his first meaningful catch since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in a preseason game last year.

Hymes leapt over Corey Fuller to grab a 30-yard pass from Kyle Boller on the third play of the scrimmage. It was the catch of the night (converting a third-and-nine), and could be one of the most important receptions of Hymes' career. It proved to the third-year player that he still has it.

"It felt real good," said Hymes, 6 feet 3. "Coming out here doing what I did before I left the game, it felt real good."

Walls gets a chance

With the Ravens short-handed at cornerback, Ray Walls has his best opportunity to cement his position on the team.

Walls started in place of an injured Gary Baxter last night and played one of the defense's best games. He intercepted Kordell Stewart's pass on third down during the offense's third possession.

"I sat at the [first down] sticks and broke on the ball," said Walls, in his fourth year out of Southern Mississippi.

"Things have gone well [during camp]. I've had the opportunity to step up because of the situation at my position. When opportunity comes, I just have to prove myself because for me, it's do or die."

Fuller started at the other cornerback position in place of Chris McAlister, who is absent because of a contract dispute. Veteran Fred Weary also did not play because of a quadriceps injury.

Rare setback for Stover

For only the second time since the Ravens have had halftime kicking contests during the scrimmages, Matt Stover lost.

Stover fell to Wade Richey, who made all six of his field goals. Both kickers hit their first five kicks before Stover missed by 2 yards on a 61-yard attempt. Richey's kick from that distance cleared by about 4 yards.

"He beat me on a 61-yarder. That's OK. I made everything inside, include a 57-yarder, so I'll take that," Stover said.

Camp update

Thumbs up: Musa Smith had an electrifying 23-yard run during the scrimmage, then followed with a 2-yard touchdown. Smith led the team with 50 yards. ... Tight ends Daniel Wilcox and Brett Pierce combined for 11 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown. ... Chad Williams played a strong game, nailing Chester Taylor for a 4-yard loss and knocking down a pass on a blitz. ... T.J. Slaughter and Cornell Brown had seven tackles each.

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