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Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Heap might have to sit out Ravens reunion

By Jamison Hensley

The familiar sound of "Heeeap" -- which Ravens fans yelled after every Todd Heap catch -- might not be heard Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

A hamstring injury could prevent Heap from suiting up for the Cardinals in Baltimore, where he played for 10 seasons before getting cut in July. Heap has been sidelined for the past two games because of the injury.

"It’s honestly hard to say," Heap told ESPN.com's AFC North blog about the chances of him playing in his reunion game. "There are a lot of other injuries where I could say 100 percent I’m playing in this game. Hamstrings are a different issue. With these things, you just take it one day a time. As much as I’d want to say what’s exactly going to happen, I can’t say much more than that."

Todd Heap
Todd Heap hopes to be healthy enough to play Sunday against his former team.
While some might say it's not a surprise that Heap is injured, he actually played full 16-game seasons in six of his nine years as a full-time starter and started 13 games in his final season with the Ravens.

Heap said there's "no question" that it would be difficult for him to miss this game. A first-round draft pick by the Ravens in 2001, he finished his career as the franchise's all-time leader in touchdown catches (41) and second in receptions (467) and receiving yards (5,492). Heap was the Ravens' most consistent receiver in an unsettled decade (he caught passes from nine starting quarterbacks).

"This is definitely a different game," Heap said. "I’ve seen a lot of guys go through this. For me, it’s a place I’ve been for 10 years and obviously a lot of great people from Baltimore that influenced me for good. From that standpoint, it will be very different for me."

Heap still sounds like he hasn't gotten over the shock from his departure from the Ravens in July. The Ravens released Heap on July 28 to create $4.6 million in cap room. He signed a two-year, $6 million deal with the Cardinals three days later and the Ravens, who had expressed interest in re-signing him, didn't have the cap space to make a counteroffer.

"In my mind, I could honestly say I felt like I was going to end my career there," Heap said. "That’s what I planned on and thought about. I really didn’t think about anything else. It all hit me so quick and it’s a whirlwind. You have to make decisions for me and my family. You make those decisions and you don’t look back. That’s how I’ve always done things in my life."

Heap has already had one reunion of sorts this season. When he joined Arizona, he became teammates with former Steelers linebacker Joey Porter. In September 2004, Heap was shoved to the ground by Porter after the obviously injured tight end lined up so the Ravens could spike the ball without having to use a timeout.

All has been forgotten, according to Heap. The players put the incident behind them after talking about it years ago and it hasn't been brought up in conversation this year.

"He’s one of those guys that you absolutely hate when he’s on the other team. When he’s on your team, you absolutely love him," Heap said. "He’s got that personality. Obviously, I’ve gotten past all the things that happened when we played him and the Steelers. I can honestly say he’s a guy you want on your side."

In four games this season, Heap has caught 13 passes for 150 yards. Ed Dickson, his replacement in Baltimore, is third on the team with 22 receptions for 223 yards and one touchdown.

Heap has watched the Ravens this season when they've been on national television.

"It’s funny because I’ll sit there and knowing the offense and rooting for all of the guys, it’s a surreal feeling to watch a game when you’re removed from them," he said. "You can basically commentate the game from an outsider perspective because you know everything that is going on."

Heap keeps in contact with some of his teammates and talks regularly with Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.

"I’m sure we’ll talk this week, but probably not as much about the game," Heap said. "I’ll probably throw him a little jab to get him off his game. We both know each other too well. I know the competitor he is. We’ve been around each other long enough that he’s going to want to be at the top of his game, and I’m going to try to do the same."