Tight end Todd Heap fights for yardage in the last game in which he had a catch -- Oct. 2 against the Giants.
Todd Heap was one of the glamour signings the Cards made in the offseason, and the tight end was just fitting into the offense a month into the season.
Then he hurt his hamstring, and he has disappeared.
Fighting to return from the unstable injury, Heap has played in only one of the past six games, and that was just for a couple of plays. He had 10 catches for 102 yards in the two games before getting hurt.
"It's hard to deal with," Heap said Wednesday. "You put in so much work, so much time, and you expect to be out there with your teammates every week, you expect to be out there to help your team win, to make a play. When you can't go out there and stand on the sideline, it can take its toll. You have to really learn how to deal with it and I don't know if I am the best at dealing with those things."
Heap was limited at practice Wednesday, sweat dripping down his brow when it was over. The Cards could have good news this week since fellow tight end Rob Housler (groin) was also limited and it seems both are closer to getting back on the field.
The Cardinals could use that outlet in the passing game. Jeff King and Jim Dray are the other two tight ends, and while King got out early this season with a couple of touchdown catches, Heap and Housler are the primary receivers at the position.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt expects Heap to be rusty when he returns.
"It's been a tough stretch for him," Whisenhunt said. "The only thing you can say is he is a veteran, so you hope that adapting back into what we are doing would be a little bit easier for him."
Heap went through a similar hamstring problem in 2007, missing 10 games with Baltimore (he missed three games last season with a hamstring problem as well). "It's just frustrating more than anything else," Heap said.
He has a confidence that rust won't be an issue.
"I am not going to hold anything back or sit back and worry about my responsibilities or what the offense is, because I feel I have stayed in in mentally," Heap said. "It's more so how my leg responds."
KEITH SITS OUT
After suffering a concussion against the 49ers, starting right tackle Brandon Keith did not practice Wednesday and his status is up in the air for Sunday's game. Backup Jeremy Bridges was gone due to a non-injury situation, but he is expected to return this week. D'Anthony Batiste is the other option at tackle.
Besides Heap and Housler, quarterback Kevin Kolb (toe) was limited in practice although he was finally able to take some reps during 11-on-11 work and expressed optimism he could be ready this weekend. Running back Beanie Wells (knee) and cornerback Michael Adams (hamstring) were also limited. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (groin) was added to the injury list but practiced full, as did running back LaRod Stephens-Howling (shoulder) and linebacker Paris Lenon (groin).
Safety Kerry Rhodes (foot) and linebacker Joey Porter (knee) remain out.
For the Rams, their injury woes continue with starting linebacker James Laurinaitis (foot) sitting out Wednesday. The Rams are also without starting tackles Jason Smith (concussion) and Mark LeVoir (pectoral), and LeVoir was already a replacement for Rodger Saffold, who is out for the season.
BRADFORD LOOKING DEEP
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford lamented his failure to hit on some open deep passes against the Cardinals during their first meeting a few weeks ago, painful after St. Louis fell at University of Phoenix Stadium, 19-13, in overtime.
"That's actually something that (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) and I have spent some time on and talked about, because in this league when you have opportunities to get chunks of yardage or possibly score, you have to take advantage," Bradford said. "It's an area I've tried to fix and feel like I've addressed since we played the first time."