When the Ravens promoted tight end Davon Drew from their practice squad this afternoon, it initially looked like it could be a bad sign for Todd Heap.
The Ravens' two-time Pro Bowl tight end has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, and adding Drew to the active roster seemed like it could have been a move to give the Ravens an extra tight end in the event Heap needed to miss the next couple of weeks as well.
Head coach John Harbaugh said that's not the case.
Heap will definitely return this season, Harbaugh said, and he could be ready to play as early as this Sunday against the Browns.
"I'm certain he'll play, and I assume it'll be before the end of the regular season," Harbaugh said. "Actually, just talking to Bill (Tessendorf, head athletic trainer) just now, he's fairly optimistic (Heap's) going to play this week.
"Again, hamstring (injuries are) so hard to determine. I think Todd needs two or three good days of practice realistically, so if that tips our hand a little bit, so be it. But, we're going to try to get him ready for this game, because we feel we're going to need him."
Part of the reason that the Ravens opted to promote Drew, giving them four tight ends on the active roster, is that they didn't want to risk another team signing the East Carolina product off their practice squad.
This time of year, teams that are clearly out of the playoff picture tend to pick through the top talent on other teams' practice squads and give those players a chance on their active roster.
The Ravens added Drew to their 53-man roster, meaning he can't be touched by other teams, and they'll hope that offensive lineman Bryan Mattison, who was waived to make room for Drew, will clear waivers and can be re-signed to the P-squad.
"We made basically a roster decision that we think is best for our team long-term," Harbaugh said. "We're trying to hold onto two players, and we just have our fingers crossed that we'll be able to do that. We're going to try to pull that off if we can."