After a hiatus of nearly a year and a half, veteran tight end Todd Heap might have a role again in the Ravens' offense.
Heap, in his ninth season, might not be the prime-time player he once was, but he doesn't have to be. He just needs to patrol the middle of the field on short and intermediate routes, and become a weapon in the red zone.
Heap had five receptions for 74 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, as the Ravens beat the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-24, in the season opener.
Heap had the crowd of 71,099 buzzing at M&T Bank Stadium with choruses of "Heap" after every reception. It was like old times again.
"I feel great. I mean this is the best I've felt in a while," Heap said. "And I think it showed up there on the field, but we'll just keep pounding. I think overall, with my health and how I played, I feel pretty good about it. It's a good start to the season."
Heap has been hampered by ankle, hamstring and back injuries the past two seasons. The injuries forced him to miss extensive practice time, and last year that irritated rookie head coach John Harbaugh. But Heap put in a great deal of time working with a specialist in the offseason and has missed only two practices so far.
He could become the big target the Ravens need inside the red zone.
"How about Todd Heap today?" Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said. "He had a great game, made some big-time catches, and it's awesome to have a tight end who can make some plays for you like that."
Don't stray from strength
Flacco completed 26 of 43 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns, and the Ravens' aerial game might have caught the Chiefs off guard. But offensive coordinator Cam Cameron shouldn't stray from the team's strength,running the ball.
Flacco is not at the point of his career where his arm can carry a team. Despite throwing the ball on 25 of 38 plays in the first half, the Ravens had only a 10-7 lead. Flacco was hot in the first half, but erratic in the second.
Struggles on special teams
Why is it that head coaches often struggle in their former areas of expertise?
Brian Billick came to the Ravens as a great offensive coordinator and could never build a strong offense. Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis built a Super Bowl-winning defense in Baltimore, and the Bengals have never come close to duplicating that feat.
In Baltimore, the Ravens have struggled on special teams even though Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was a long-time special teams coach in Philadelphia.
Sunday, a Ravens punt was blocked for a touchdown and Steve Hauschka missed one of two field-goal attempts, a 41-yarder that went wide left.
The Ravens averaged only 3 yards on three punt returns.
More pressure, please
Hint, hint, hint: Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison might want to blitz more. He would like to get more pressure from his front four and play more base defense, but that's probably not going to happen with this group.
When a team like Kansas City can mount scoring drives of 55 and 80 yards in the fourth quarter with a second-string quarterback and an offense that recently lost its coordinator, you have problems. The answer is to bring more pressure.
Opening the playbook
It was nice to see Cameron dig into his playbook of tricks, which we didn't see in the preseason. We saw some unbalanced line, some no-huddle and then the jumbo package with guard Marshal Yanda and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata.
That's a lot of beef on one side.
Ed Reed explains
There were two questions for safety Ed Reed: Why did he return a punt? What happened to the Ravens' defense on Dwayne Bowe's 2-yard touchdown reception?
First, the punt return.
"That was a defensive stay," Reed said. "Anytime there is a quick exchange between defense and punt return, it's called defensive stay. If Chris [Carr] was on the field, he would have returned the punt."
As far as Dawan Landry covering Bowe, Reed said: "It was short yardage. They had three receivers in the game, but had the ball on the 2-yard line. You expect run right there, so you want to have your best guys on the field. They just made a play."