Sypniewski catches chance

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Blocking tight end shows off hands

Williams works on punt returns

Ravens Weekend

October 05, 2007|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN REPORTER

Quinn Sypniewski is perfect.

Eight times the football has been thrown in Sypniewski's direction this season, and eight times the Ravens tight end has caught the pass, displaying a talent that he hoped to showcase in his second NFL season.

"I have a lot of confidence in myself," Sypniewski said. "Just to be able to go out there and show that to my teammates is definitely something I like to do."

Selected in the fifth round in 2006 for his blocking skills, Sypniewski has been waiting to be a part of the Ravens' passing attack. After catching just two passes for 15 yards last season, he already has eight receptions for 52 yards.

Sypniewski's biggest performance occurred in Sunday's 27-13 loss to the Cleveland Browns. With Todd Heap (strained hamstring) and Daniel Wilcox (sprained toe) leaving the game early because of injury, he caught six passes for 34 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown reception.

"There were some big shoes to fill when Todd and Danny both went down," Sypniewski said. "So I just took the opportunity and ran with it."

Coach Brian Billick called Sypniewski's contributions "huge."

"You find it all the time. A guy gets thrown into a situation where he has to step up and go beyond some of the things he's been asked to do before, and he performed brilliantly," Billick said. "So he's been a godsend for us in that regard."

While it is still unclear whether Heap or Wilcox -- who both didn't practice yesterday -- will be able to play in Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sypniewski said his approach will be uncluttered with what-ifs.

"I'm going to do whatever they need me to do," he said. "If Todd or Danny can't go, I'm definitely going to be in there. So I just look at it that way. One of us has to be in there and ready to play. If it has to be me, it'll be me."

Shaking off `rust'

Demetrius Williams hasn't fielded a punt return since his freshman year at Oregon, but the wide receiver is getting re-acquainted with it.

Williams joined return specialist Yamon Figurs and backup Cory Ross, catching punts on the practice field Wednesday. Williams presumably had the extra work because Figurs has a shoulder injury that has limited him in practice the past two days.

"It's been awhile, but I know I can still do it," Williams said. "I've got to work off the rust a little bit, but I'm OK with doing it. If the team needs me to go back there and just fair catch it, I'll fair catch it. Whatever they need me to do, I'll do it."

Pittman waits

David Pittman has been active for three of the team's first four games, but he still isn't playing at cornerback.

Pittman, who started at cornerback in place of Samari Rolle during the third preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Aug. 25, has not been afforded a similar opportunity with Rolle missing the past two because of illness. With Corey Ivy starting at cornerback, Ronnie Prude and Derrick Martin were the nickel backs against the Arizona Cardinals and the Browns, respectively.

While saying he is frustrated by the lack of playing time, Pittman, who was deactivated for every game last season, said he is confident that he will play at cornerback this season.

"That's all I'm looking for," he said. "It will happen. I look at it as a long season. Sooner or later, the opportunity has to come, and when it comes, I'm going to take advantage of it."

Meeting again

Willis McGahee and Frank Gore's paths have crossed since their high school days in Florida and will intersect again Sunday.

After starring at rival high schools in Miami's Dade County, McGahee and Gore played for the University of Miami. McGahee went to the NFL sooner than Gore, but the Ravens running back seemed to look forward to meeting the 49ers running back again.

"It's always good to see another UM back doing well in the NFL," said McGahee, who played at Central High School while Gore played at Coral Gables. "We played him in high school. He still [gained] 100 yards on us, but they lost to us. That's all that counts. In the playoffs, they lost to us."

End zone

In addition to Heap and Wilcox, Rolle and wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee) did not practice yesterday. Linebacker Terrell Suggs (pink eye) practiced after missing Wednesday's session. Quarterback Steve McNair (groin), offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) and Figurs were limited in practice for the second straight day. ... Billick confirmed that linebacker Dan Cody injured his left foot Wednesday, but the coach didn't disclose the severity or whether the injury set back Cody in his attempt to return from offseason knee surgery. "We'll make clear what it is later on, but he hurt his foot," Billick said.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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