Ravens tight end Todd Heap can't reach a pass intended… (McClatchy-Tribune photo )
Tight end Todd Heap likely won't be able to play in the Ravens' game against the Houston Texans Monday night.
Heap pulled his right hamstring running a seam route on the very first play of the team's eventual 13-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night. Heap did not return to the game, and coach John Harbaugh said Monday that it doesn't appear that Heap will be ready for Houston.
"I think Todd's probably the one that we really are concerned about," Harbaugh said. "I don't want to rule him out yet, but it doesn't look good for next week. It's one of those hamstring pulls that's going to be tough. The young guys are going to have to step up."
Rookies Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta are the most likely candidates to fill in for Heap, who ranks second on the team in receiving touchdowns (5), third in receiving yards (546) and fourth in catch (37).
Dickson caught three passes for 22 yards, including two that gained first downs Sunday night. Pitta served as more of an H-back, blocking for tailbacks Ray Rice and Willis McGahee.
Dickson sounded as if he's ready for extended playing time in Heap's absence.
"So I just got in there and basically said, 'Do my job and not miss a beat,'" Dickson said after Sunday night's loss. "That's what we work on through the offseason [and] if something major happened like that, I'd go in and not miss a beat, and that's what we did."
Harbaugh, however, wasn't prepared to categorize Heap's injury as of the season-ending variety.
"That's not something [trainer] Bill [Tessendorf] told me today," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see. I think we'll know probably in three or four days, just to see how it responds the next couple days."
J.McClain gets fined
The NFL announced Monday that it would fine Ravens inside linebacker Jameel McClain for his hit on Pittsburgh's Heath Miller that resulted in the tight end sustaining a concussion and leaving the game in the third quarter.
Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, confirmed the fine on his Twitter account, writing, "Last night we confirmed Jameel McClain's hit to head of Heath Miller should have been flagged. Today we r confirming McClain will be fined"
Harbaugh, who addressed the media while Aiello was confirming the punishment, strongly defended McClain's tackle.
"I think the big issue, from our perspective, is what Jameel is capable of doing and what he's not capable of doing," Harbaugh said. "Jameel tried to go low. He tried to go low to make the tackle, and Heath Miller fell. So he's going down, and as Jameel is trying to go low to make the tackle in that strike-zone area, [Miller's] head ends up in that area. So there's nothing that Jameel could have done that was humanly possible to avoid that kind of contact. Now if they're going to call that a penalty because they can't tell that it's a duck-and-hit type of situation, that's up to them. But from a fine perspective, to me, it's clear that Jameel was trying to go low."
Harbaugh compared McClain's hit to the one inside linebacker Ray Lewis delivered against Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Austin Collie in the playoffs. Lewis was flagged for a personal foul, but he was not fined after replays showed that Collie appeared to duck his head just before Lewis collided into him.
"So I don't think it should be a fine based on the way it's been explained to me time and time again by [NFL executive director of football operations] Ray Anderson and others in the league," Harbaugh said. "And I'm not afraid to go on record and say that because that's the way it's been explained. They may say differently and I may learn something from it. But to take it to the next level [of a possible suspension], there would be absolutely no chance of that."
L.McClain to return
Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain will return to play Monday after missing the first NFL game of his career.
McClain was deactivated Sunday night with what Harbaugh described as a "tough ankle sprain."
"He was close Sunday and maybe he was right, maybe he could have gotten through it healthy," Harbaugh said. "We don't know that. But he'll be back for sure this week."
Harbaugh stands firm
Harbaugh reiterated his stance on going for the first down on fourth-and-2 on the Ravens' final possession of the game rather than sending out kicker Billy Cundiff to attempt a 48- or 49-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Harbaugh said he took note that Cundiff expressed confidence in attempting the field goal.