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Arizona Cardinals release TE Todd Heap

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)

The Arizona Cardinals have released Todd Heap, bringing an end to the former All-Pro tight end's brief, injury-plagued time in the desert.

Heap, who is one catch shy of 500 career receptions, appeared in just two games with Arizona this season, catching eight passes for 94 yards. Over the past two seasons with the Cardinals, Heap appeared in 12 games, catching 32 passes for 377 yards and one touchdown.

A first-round draft pick by Baltimore out of Arizona State in 2001, he played for the Ravens for 10 seasons. He was an All-Pro selection in 2002 and made the Pro Bowl in 2002 and 2003. Heap is the Ravens' career leader in receiving touchdowns and is second in receptions and yards receiving. He was released by Baltimore following the 2010 season.

To fill the roster spot, Arizona signed former San Diego tight end Kory Sperry.

There were indications that Heap had fallen out of favor with coach Ken Whisenhunt when the tight end was inactive the past two games despite being able to practice fully the last two weeks.

Asked on Monday why Heap had been inactive, Whisenhunt said, ''Well, he's got to show us that he's full speed to be able to go, and that hasn't been the case.''

Arizona linebacker Quentin Groves tweeted some words about Heap's departure.

''Great guy and even better teammate,'' Groves wrote. ''The true definition of the word PRO. Todd Heap thanks for everyone bro.. And the good battles we had!''

Heap played in the first two games of the season, catching five passes for 62 yards in Arizona's 20-18 victory over New England. He was inactive with a knee injury for the next eight games, then returned to full practice.

The 32-year-old player is tied for ninth with Ben Coates for receptions by a tight end. He ranks 12th in NFL history for tight end yards receiving.

An undrafted rookie out of Colorado State, Sperry played in eight games with Miami in 2009. He was with the Chargers the following two seasons. In 2011, Sperry appeared in 16 games, four as a starter. He has eight catches for 136 yards and one touchdown in 31 NFL games. He was released by the Chargers on Aug. 31.

Rob Housler and Jeff King are the other tight ends on the Arizona roster.

Tuesday's moves came with the Cardinals mired in an eight-game losing streak and coming off of one of the worst offensive performances in franchise history in Sunday's 7-6 loss to the New York Jets. They play at Seattle on Sunday.

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Tagged: Cardinals, Chargers, Todd Heap, Kory Sperry

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