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The Ravens believe Todd Heap will only benefit from the addition of two rookie tight ends this season – even if it only means he sees less snaps.
Heap may have played more snaps than anyone at his position last year, as he gritted his way through a campaign that saw him on the injury report for ankle, ribs, chest and back injuries at various moments.
With Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta now on board, Heap might be able to stay 100 percent from start to finish.
“It’s going to be good to get Todd out of the game some,” said Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron. “We had no chance to get Todd out of the game last year, so we’ll hopefully be able to spell him a little with one of these guys.”
Cameron envisions a scenario similar to the one the Ravens have in their backfield, where Ray Rice handled the bulk of the carries in 2009 and Willis McGahee played a few series each game and was the red-zone runner.
“What Willis McGahee does for Ray Rice, or what Ray does for Willis, we’re looking for that at the tight end position,” Cameron continued. “To have a guy come in and have some Willis McGahee-type of production will allow Todd to play at even a higher level with less snaps.”
Heap did manage to start in all 16 games and total 53 catches for 593 yards and six touchdowns, finishing the season with four scores in three of the last three contests. He was also a willing blocker in regular sets and Baltimore’s unbalanced line.
Quarterback Joe Flacco is hoping to see Heap revert to even more of a pass-catching threat in 2010, all with the help of the talented youngsters.
“Those guys are going to be big for us, because Todd was the only guy we had playing that position for us,” Flacco said of Dickson and Pitta. “I don’t know how he felt about the draft, but I don’t think he should feel bad about it. It’s a position where we needed two guys, and those are some athletic guys that can go get the ball.
“Hopefully, we can block well enough so we can give Todd a break and have two tight ends on the field that are threats.”