Thursday, October 27, 2011
Todd Heap hopes to return Sunday
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Todd Heap has been looking forward to Arizona's game at Baltimore pretty much from the day he signed with the Cardinals.
Now that the game is this Sunday, the uncertainty of his health adds to his anticipation. The big tight end has missed the last two games because of a sore left hamstring, but is cautiously optimistic he can play against the team that, to his great surprise, released him after 10 seasons.
"It's something that hit it out of left field," Heap said. "I didn't see it coming. I just had to take it all in stride. Any time something like that happens, you look forward, you kind of try to move forward and see what's next for you and try not to look back."
Heap's move was to come home to Arizona, where he grew up and was a star at Arizona State, and sign with the Cardinals. Although his best days may have been behind him, his addition gave Arizona a weapon at tight end that the franchise long had lacked.
But it hasn't had much of a chance to materialize. Heap caught 13 passes, still tied for third-most on the team, through four games, averaging 11.5 yards per catch. With the addition of Jeff King and rookie Rob Housler, Arizona used several multiple-tight end sets. But a sore left hamstring has sidelined Heap the past two weeks and his ability to play at Baltimore is uncertain.
"It's definitely the most frustrating part of football," Heap said. "You can talk to a lot of guys, there's a 100 percent chance of injury in the NFL. It's the most frustrating part of the game when you can't be out there with your guys. You put in so much work to go out there and you want to display that on the field. You want to put all that hard work to the test."
Heap practiced on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt hopes Heap can play at least a limited role against the Ravens to help a Cardinals team that has lost five straight -- 10 in a row on the road -- and will be facing a defense as fierce as any in the league.
"Todd started off gangbusters for us, making some plays, so it always hurts when you don't have that kind of guy," Whisenhunt said after Thursday's practice. "I've been happy with Rob in his advancement but Rob hasn't been in the league and had the productive years like Todd has, so it always hurts."
Whisenhunt said that Heap's health on Friday and Saturday will go a long way in determining whether he can play against the Ravens.
"I think if he can give us a little bit it's certainly a valuable part of it," the coach said, "especially if it's just the red zone or in third downs, something where he can use his experience to really help us in those type of critical situations."
Heap has always praised the Baltimore organization for allowing him the opportunity to play there for a decade. Twice a Pro Bowl selection and a one-time All-Pro, he is the Ravens' career leader in touchdown receptions (41) and second in receptions (467) and yards receiving (5,492).
But he acknowledges he has a bit of extra feeling about this one.
"Of course, all of these games that we're playing this year," Heap said, "this is one of the games I looked at and was excited about."
Running back Beanie Wells was limited in practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday's workout with a sore knee. The same went for wide receiver Early Doucet, who injured his quadriceps in Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh.