Todd Heap is coming back to Baltimore.
Oh, you’ve heard of him, have you?
Sure, he’s only one of the most decorated pass catchers in Ravens history and, for the past decade, the face of Baltimore’s offensive attack.
Before the deafening chants of “REEEED” echoed throughout M&T Bank Stadium every Sunday, it was the sounds of “HEEEEEAP” that could be heard in the stands.
For 10 seasons, Heap played an instrumental role in the Ravens offense. Admittedly he spent the majority of his final years in Baltimore away from action with some sort of injury, but when all was said and done, Heap had amassed 467 receptions, 5,492 yards and 41 touchdowns, all second in franchise history.
Now he’ll make his first trip to Baltimore since being released in the offseason, this time as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. For Heap, it was a chance to play in his home state and an opportunity to continue his career as one of the league’s most versatile tight ends. His blocking and receiving skills were among the best in football. And unfortunately for Ravens fans, Heap will put those familiar skills on display - health permitting - against the purple and black Sunday.
Fittingly enough, Heap’s status for Sunday’s game is up in the air. In just a handful of games with the Cardinals, Heap has only 13 catches for 150 yards and has yet to find the end zone. He’s also missed Arizona’s last two games with a strained hamstring.
It’s clear Heap, who has battled injuries for most of his tenure, is past his prime, but for Heap to come out and play Sunday would symbolize much more than simply giving Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb another receiving option. The connection between Heap and Baltimore, particularly his former Ravens teammates, was a strong one and as the Baltimore Sun reported, one that has certainly not escaped the thoughts of the Ravens.
If Heap is able to play, it’ll also be interesting to note the fans’ reaction. Just a few weeks ago, former Raven Derrick Mason returned to Baltimore as a member of the New York Jets, then just two weeks later as a Houston Texan. Despite playing in Baltimore for a number of years, Mason wasn’t exactly welcomed back to Charm City and was booed with each reception.
Of course, Mason was never a stranger to running his mouth and did so after leaving the Ravens and joining Rex Ryan and Co. in New York, understandably adding fuel to the proverbial Baltimore fire.
Heap, on the other hand, simply goes about his business, trying to stay healthy and continue to be the workhorse on the field. If he does see time Sunday, it’s safe to say he’ll get a mixed collection of responses. Some fans boo anyone not in a Ravens uniform, while others will hopefully pay homage to Heap and his time spent in the purple in black. But whatever happens, it’s clear it’ll be an emotional day for Heap and his former teammates who used to suit up alongside him.