Heap Targeted Less in Pass Game

4622bceb42b5496d93a55bf8794d8f5c.jpg


After starting the season as one of quarterback Joe Flacco's most-used targets, tight end Todd Heap's name has not often been mentioned by public address announcers in recent games.

Only four passes have come Heap's way over the Ravens' past two contests, and he's caught three of them for 21 yards.

How can the Ravens get Heap more involved into the offense?

It's not simply one quick fix. Heap has been on the field, but he hasn't always been in a receiving role. The Ravens have recently faced two of the NFL's best pass-rushing teams in the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, which have heightened Heap's blocking duties.

And, when Baltimore dipped into the playbook to run their powerful unbalanced line, as they did at least 10 times against the Steelers, Heap essentially turns into a tackle, as the Ravens put their two regular offensive tackles next to each other.

It remains to be seen if this continues to be the case Monday night against the Green Bay Packers.

"It's week to week, it really is," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. "Some weeks it fits, some weeks it doesn't. It was really more a function of whether [Jared] Gaither's healthy or not. That's kind of driving the whole thing. But sometimes it fits in a game plan, sometimes it doesn't. It's not something that we'd say that we're going to do every single week."

Heap might have a chance to get back in the stat sheet at Lambeau Field. One of the biggest games of his career came against the Packers. On Dec. 19, 2005, Heap lit the Packers up on "Monday Night Football" for nine receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns.

Additionally, opposing tight ends have seen success against Green Bay.

Minnesota's Visanthe Shiancoe caught three balls for 18 yards and a touchdown. St. Louis Ram Daniel Fells hauled in two touchdowns. Tampa Bay's Kellen Winslow, Jr., led all Buccaneers receivers against the Packers with four receptions for 57 yards and a score.

And San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis torched the Pack two weeks ago with six grabs for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Even noting that trend, Flacco is not going to force anything Heap's way.

"I think you just let the game plan run its course, and at the end of the game you look up and see what's happened," Flacco said. "For the most part, we try to get as many people involved as we can, and I think we'll do a good job of that when we put the game plan together and when it's all finalized by game time."

Should the Ravens want to utilize Heap in more blocking situations more in the way they did in 2008 – where his 35 catches for 403 yards was his lowest output in any season where he's played in all 16 games – the ninth-year veteran is prepared.

"I've always prided myself in my blocking ability and the way I can contribute in the passing game," Heap explained.

Previous to the two-game disappearing act, Heap had been a readily-used weapon. In six contests, he topped 40 receiving yards, even posting five catches for 74 yards and a score in the season opener.

Whether the Ravens dip back into that well remains to be seen.

"Obviously, he does a great job blocking," Flacco said. "I like throwing him the ball, and he hasn't been getting out on routes the last few weeks. We're always going to try and get him the ball in a position where he can have success. It's a luxury to have a guy that is as versatile as he is. You don't have to being another guy in when you do want to switch things up."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising