Matchup To Watch

Ravens vs. Browns

December 17, 2006

Ravens tight end Todd Heap vs. Browns strong safety Sean Jones

George Kokinis, the Ravens' pro personnel director, sizes up tonight's critical matchup against the Browns:

The players

In his sixth season, Heap has solidified himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL. He is tied with receiver Derrick Mason for the team lead in catches (59) and leads the Ravens in touchdown catches (six).

Heap is the Ravens' all-time leading receiver with 302 catches, 98 better than the second-place receiver (Travis Taylor). Over the past five seasons, Heap is third among all tight ends in catches (286) and touchdowns (25). Jones, a second-round pick in 2004, is in his first season as a starter. He leads Cleveland with five interceptions and ranks third with 82 tackles.

A backup last season, Jones got his chance to start after the Browns traded Chris Crocker in the offseason. He was AFC Defensive Player of the Week in Week 8 after making two interceptions in a win over the New York Jets.

What to watch

Jones, who missed his rookie season with a left knee injury, is getting better with every week. At 6 feet 1, 215 pounds, he plays physically in addition to having a knack for being around the ball.

For a safety, Jones can break on the ball, showing good range and quickness. He obviously has good ball skills with five interceptions, which is tied for second among all NFL safeties.

Jones has an important matchup with Heap, who can create mismatches with his speed and height. Heap has been one of the Ravens' most consistent performers. Teams not only have to worry about him on the underneath routes but also must respect his ability to stretch the field down the seam.

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