Tight ends T. Jones, Heap together again

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Tight end Terry Jones took some of the hardest hits of any offensive player last year, yet he plans on making no adjustments to protect himself better this preseason.

"I took a couple of nice licks, but it was just circumstance," he said. "It took me going across the middle, taking that lick, so we can get it done. But this year, I'm going to try and avoid those big hits. But if it comes to that and I need to go out there and take that lick to make that catch, I'm going to do it."

Jones will likely reunite with Todd Heap in the Ravens 'two-tight end set for the first time in a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons tonight.

The formation worked well last season and is fast becoming a favorite of coach Brian Billick.

But for whatever reason, playing with Heap has a tendency to put Jones in some vulnerable positions.

He took perhaps the hardest hit of anyone last year from that formation on a 27-yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Dec. 15 win at Houston. Texans safety Matt Stevens hit Jones so hard, it left him dazed for a few minutes.

Jones, though, still relishes the chance to work alongside Heap, who has missed much of training camp with back spasms.

"It will give us a chance to work out the kinks," Jones said. "We are already working well together. Before he got hurt, we were doing our things, jelling together. But it will be different working in a game together. We'll see how his back feels but I think he'll be fine.

"I want to make myself a more reliable pass catcher. A lot of people are going to put pressure on Todd and Travis [Taylor] and Frank [Sanders] to do some things, so I'm going to be freed up a lot of times. So I have to go out there and make plays happen so they will notice me, too."

The season-ending leg injury to rookie Trent Smith, who would have challenged Jones for playing time, puts more pressure on the second-year player.

"We see good signs, but we plan on being in a lot of two-tight end sets to highlight Todd, and Terry has to be the guy to be the backup, along with John Jones," Billick said. 'You'll see a lot of all of them."

Salave'a returns

Defensive tackle Joe Salave'a will make his debut as a Raven tonight and play in his first game since December 2001.

Salave'a was out of football last year after the Titans released him in September. He has struggled with a knee injury through most of camp but will likely see a limited amount of snaps.

"I'm just happy to be back on the field with the guys," said Salave'a, a key backup for the Titans in 2000 and 2001. "Coach Rex [Ryan] knows what to do as far as repetitions. But I'll be ready for the game and am excited."

Hymes cools down

Receiver Randy Hymes returned to practice yesterday after leaving Thursday's morning session early with dizziness.

Hymes was carted off the field with 40 minutes left in that practice because of the heat but showed no effects in yesterday's walkthrough. He is expected to play a major role tonight.

Temperatures soared into the 90s with high humidity the past two days, easily the hottest days of camp.

"Randy is fine," Billick said. "He was just a little woozy. It wasn't a critical situation."

Freeman's shot

He is the only undrafted rookie on the defensive line, but former Stanford standout Trey Freeman likes his chances.

Freeman, a 6-foot-2, 293-pound tackle, will get a good look in tonight's game, and since the Ravens will likely play their starters the first half of the next preseason game, this might be Freeman's last chance at significant game action.

"I feel like I have a pretty good shot," Freeman said. "There are a lot of young players, not a lot of veterans who have their place established. I feel if I keep working hard, I have a shot."

End zone

The Ravens left for Atlanta right after practice. The team will return to Westminster for the final two days of camp Monday. ... Tackle Orlando Brown did not make the trip for tonight's game.

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