Heap hopes injury doesn't spoil chance to get back at Ravens

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 tight end weapon that the franchise long had lacked.

But it hasn't had much of a chance to materialize. Heap has 13 catches, 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.

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."

Twice a Pro Bowl selection and a one-time All-Pro, Heap is the Ravens' career leader in touchdown receptions (41) and second in receptions (467) and yards receiving (5,492).

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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