Billick breaks precedent, says T. Taylor will start

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Coach makes it a point to proclaim receiver's role

Pro Football

October 23, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

In a surprising move, Ravens coach Brian Billick said receiver Travis Taylor will start tomorrow's game against the Buffalo Bills at M&T Bank Stadium.

Billick usually reserves the right to not name starters, in part because he considers third receivers, backup tight ends and nickel (fifth) defensive backs as part of the first team.

But Billick made it a point to say Taylor will resume his role with the starters, where he has been considered the No. 1 receiver the past three seasons. There had been speculation that Randy Hymes had supplanted Taylor.

"We have a lot of rotations, a lot of groups," Billick said. "You know me and starters. But [Taylor] is in a number of the starting groups.

The Ravens want Taylor to take 35 to 40 snaps, which would equate to about two-thirds of the game. Taylor reinjured a groin strain in the second quarter of the season opener against the Cleveland Browns and has not played since.

"I'm ready to go," Taylor said. "[Yesterday] was the best day it felt this week. I'm trying to go out there and make some plays. I haven't been in there a long time."

The Ravens will continue to start Kevin Johnson and bring Hymes in on some third downs.

Hymes had become the Ravens' go-to receiver in Taylor's absence, leading the team with 16 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson has 10 catches for 124 yards.

"I got a chance to go out there and make plays for the football team when Travis was down," Hymes said. "Now that he's back, nothing has changed as far as going out and making plays again.

"I proved something to myself, that I'm capable of stepping up when they need me. I'm going to get on the field. The first game of the season, I came in whenever we went three-wide, and the same thing is going to happen this week. That's my role."

Receiver Patrick Johnson, who signed with the Ravens on Monday, won't play against Buffalo.

Injury update

Tight end Todd Heap (ankle) missed practice for the third straight day and isn't expected to play tomorrow. Heap officially remains doubtful.

The Ravens had hoped Heap would be able to play this week after he suffered the injury the second game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But the two-time Pro Bowl player is still having trouble cutting on the ankle.

Fullback Ovie Mughelli (hamstring, questionable) practiced and should be available. Center Mike Flynn (shoulder) is expected to be inactive.

The Bills will have running back Travis Henry (foot) and safety Lawyer Milloy (forearm) back in the starting lineup.

Fond memories

Right guard Bennie Anderson will face his former mentor in Bills defensive tackle Sam Adams.

It is rare that an offensive player's mentor is on the defensive side, but Adams was just that to Anderson when the two played together in Anderson's rookie season (2001).

In fact, Adams' glowing reports of Anderson to the coaches when the two faced off during practices was one of the reasons the then-undrafted free agent was able to work his way into the starting lineup.

"The things I would do well, he would say `Good job,' but if I had a bad set, he would tell me, `It would be a lot better if you do it this way,'" Anderson said. "He talked to me about football, about life outside the game. He was a big help for me.

"You don't get an opportunity to play against one of the top three defensive tackles in the league every week, so it's definitely something I'm looking forward to."

Fresh face

The Ravens signed defensive back Jamaine Winborne to the practice squad. Winborne is a rookie out of Virginia.

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens (3-2) vs. Buffalo Bills (1-4)

Site: M&T Bank Stadium

When: Tomorrow, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 6

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