Status quo for hurt starters


Heap, T. Taylor, Flynn unlikely to return for Redskins game Sunday


October 06, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

While the Ravens were thankful no new injuries came out of the team's 27-24 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night, a few notable players that were held out of that game do not look any closer to returning.

Tight end Todd Heap (ankle), receiver Travis Taylor (groin) and center Mike Flynn (collarbone) are all highly unlikely to play Sunday night against the Washington Redskins. Whether cornerback Deion Sanders (hamstring), who was declared out two hours before the Chiefs game even though he practiced last week, will be back to face his old team remains questionable.

"On the injury front, it looks like it's pretty much status quo," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Got the normal bumps and bruises and pains. But right now, it doesn't look like anybody is in jeopardy from [Monday] night going into the Washington game."

While that news might be re-assuring for the Ravens, the absence of Heap for another week will undoubtedly hurt a passing game that remains last in the league. Quarterback Kyle Boller completed three passes to backup tight end Terry Jones, but a drop by Jones in the first quarter helped force the Ravens into a three-and-out.

Heap and Taylor, who has not played since the season opener when he aggravated a groin injury originally suffered during the preseason, are expected to return after the Oct. 17 bye. Sanders' availability will likely be another game-time decision.

"He had a good week of practice, and you get to a point where you're feeling good, particularly since it's a Monday night game," Billick said of Sanders.

"I'm sure on Saturday he was feeling pretty good and figured with a Sunday, all day Monday, `I'll be ready to go.' It just hadn't come quite far enough. There was no setback. He had a good week of practice, was ramping himself up for it. We're hopeful this week he can."

Linebacker Bart Scott suffered a hamstring strain but is not expected to miss any time. Fullback Ovie Mughelli and linebacker T.J. Slaughter also have minor hamstring injuries.

C. Taylor waiting in wings

With Jamal Lewis set to miss as much as four games because of a likely suspension, the Ravens were relieved to hear that Chester Taylor's ankle injury suffered late Monday night was not significant.

Taylor has emerged as the unquestioned No. 2 back behind Lewis and stands to take the bulk of the snaps when Lewis is out. Lewis will miss practice tomorrow to enter his plea in his drug conspiracy case in Atlanta.

Third-string back Musa Smith has not had a carry this season.

"The good thing is both of them are actively involved," Billick said. "Musa, even though he's not taking a lot of carries, gets 20, 25 snaps on special teams. He's one of our best special teamers, so he's been in the flow. It's not like he's been sitting on the bench cold, and he will get involved in practice to a larger degree obviously Thursday because Jamal will not be here."

Shared approach

Struggles in the passing game are not the only similarities between the Redskins' and Ravens' offenses.

Conceptually, Billick said what the Ravens try to do is from the same tree originated by Joe Gibbs' old Redskins offense during his first tenure as coach.

"When I went to Minnesota, [coach] Denny Green had a great deal of admiration for what the Redskins were doing," Billick said. "They were obviously Super Bowl champs [in the 1991 season]. It was our plan at that time to meld the West Coast system and Coach Gibbs' system into kind of a hybrid that we developed there in Minnesota. It kind of extended here in a certain form.

"Our verbiage is of that verbiage of Coach Gibbs. There's a lot of connection there and a lot of respect for what he's done."

Richey's uneven night

Despite doing seemingly the unforgivable, Billick was more than forgiving of Wade Richey's kickoff out of bounds against the Chiefs. It was the second time this season Richey has placed a kickoff out of bounds.

Billick looked at the positive: two touchbacks later that night. Richey was once cut by the San Diego Chargers, in part, because he kept kicking the ball out of bounds (four in one season).

"Sometimes, particularly Monday night, you want to crank that thing," Billick said. "Anybody that plays golf or doesn't, like me, knows that you go out to the driving range and want to smack it, then it goes off into all of God's creation."

No interest in B. Johnson

Ravens officials denied any interest in acquiring Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson before the NFL's Oct. 19 trade deadline. A St. Petersburg Times column suggested Tampa Bay should explore trading Johnson for a mid-round pick to the Ravens, which would reunite him with Billick, his former offensive coordinator in Minnesota.

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (2-2) vs. Washington Redskins (1-3)

Site: FedEx Field, Landover

When: Sunday, 8:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 13, 7, ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM), WJFK (106.7 FM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Line: Pick 'em

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