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Suddenly, TE a headache for Ravens

The injury to Ravens tight end Quinn Sypniewski last week in minicamp is a lot more problematic than many folks may realize. If the knee injury is as serious as it initially appears to be, an anterior cruciate ligament, it's doubtful that Sypniewski will be back this year. Layering that on top of the fact that Daniel Wilcox is still recovering from toe surgery and Todd Heap has missed 10 games last season and in 2004, all of a sudden you wonder if tight end becomes something of a draft consideration.

With all the talk about quarterback and cornerback as Ravens' priorities and even offensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker, understandably there has been virtually no discussion about tight end. Brad Cottam of Tennessee is an interesting candidate because he has one of the better size-speed ratios among the higher-rated tight ends (6-7 1/2, 271 pounds and 4.71 speed). The minuses on Cottam are that he didn't have a lot of productivity in college as a pass catcher and he missed most of his senior year with a wrist injury. There's a tight end from Cal, Craig Stevens, who is not as big as Cottam (6-3 1/2, 254, 4.64), but he gets raves as a blocker and should be available in later draft rounds. But if the Ravens take a TE, it figures that the guy will have to contribute on special teams, especially given coach John Harbaugh's background.  Louisville's Gary Barnidge exhibits good football instincts and is highly motivated, according to draft experts. He had good productivity last year (53 catches) and he has room to comfortably add to his 6-5 frame (he's currently about 240) and still run in the 4.6 range.

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Actually, tight end is one of those positions where you can wait around until training camp and see what springs loose from someone else's roster. Frequently, adequate tight ends wind up getting cut as a result of the numbers game.

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