Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/7/11
TEMPE, Ariz. Todd Heap has heard every insult that dissatisfied fans can lob at him. He's injury-prone. He's soft. He's too old. His response is always the same: a wide smile and a patient, better-informed explanation. "I've played through a lot of injuries. There are certain ones you can't play through," he said Wednesday. "If you look at how I play when I play and the number of snaps I've taken in various seasons, I'd put that up there with anybody. "I've got a lot of good football in me." The Cardinals thought the same when they signed Heap to a two-year free-agent deal this summer. The idea was to give quarterback Kevin Kolb a comfortable safety valve to be exploited the way the Eagles' offense used tight ends when Kolb was there. Things looked promising when Heap caught 10 passes combined in Weeks 3 and 4 promising until he tore a hamstring muscle that has kept him out of five games and severely limited him in the two others the Cards have played in the past eight weeks. "That was probably one of the most frustrating things for me," he said. "I saw the direction we were going offensively and I got hurt and Kevin got hurt, so we haven't had that time where we could really put it all together." Heap had high hopes when he returned to Arizona. He led Mesa Mountain View to two Class 5A state championships and had a penchant for acrobatic catches at Arizona State that earned him the nickname "The Golden Retriever." "I definitely wanted to play the way I know I'm capable of playing for the fans here, because this is home," he said. "But I tore (the hamstring) pretty good, and the healing process has been long and arduous. I might have pushed it a little bit too hard and too early. It's been frustrating, because you never know when to push it and when not to push it to get it right as soon as possible." As a result of the injury, coach Ken Whisenhunt said it's been impossible to pinpoint Heap's role in the offense. "As far as being able to target plays, design plays, put him in situations where you try to get matchups with him, we haven't been able to do that because he hasn't been on the field," Whisenhunt said. That could change this week. Whisenhunt said Sunday after a win over the Cowboys that Heap had finally turned the corner on the injury. Heap confirmed that on Wednesday. "There have been a lot of ups and downs but I finally feel like it's heading in the right direction," he said. As for those advancing years, Heap scoffed at the conventional NFL wisdom that his career is on its downside now that he has passed 30. "Age hasn't ever been a factor for me," he said. "It might be for other people. I'm in good shape and I don't feel like this is something that happened or the healing process has been (long) because of age. This was a different injury. "You can't pay attention to what people think. My main focus is getting healthy and helping us win games."
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