Heap returns to practice for first time in two weeks

The Ravens had four players miss practice today, but the good news is that tight end Todd Heap was not among that group.

Heap was back on the practice field for the first time since suffering a hamstring injury on the first play of the Ravens’ game against the Steelers on Dec. 5.

The two-time Pro Bowler was limited in practice today, but the fact that he was able to get out and test the hammy a bit is a good sign. Head coach John Harbaugh said Monday that he was “fairly optimistic” that Heap will be able to play Sunday against the Browns.

The four Ravens who did not participate in today’s practice were guard/tackle Tony Moll (illness), linebacker Jason Phillips (illness), wide receiver/kick returner David Reed (head) and safety Tom Zbikowski (back).

Wide receiver Derrick Mason (ankle) was limited today, while center Matt Birk (knee) and wide receiver Marcus Smith (shoulder) had a full practice.

For the Browns, six players missed practice, including three key starters: running back Peyton Hillis (knee), quarterback Colt McCoy (illness) and defensive lineman Shaun Rogers (ankle/hip).

Browns head coach Eric Mangini said today on a conference call with Baltimore reporters that he fully expects Hillis to be able to play Sunday.

“He should be fine,” Mangini said. “We’re just giving him a day.”

Four Cleveland starters were limited today: cornerback Sheldon Brown (shoulder), defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman (shoulder), right tackle John St. Clair (ankle) and right guard Floyd Womack (knee). Pro Bowl kick returner Josh Cribbs (foot) also was limited, as well.

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