Rookie diary: James Casey

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EDITOR'S NOTE:

drafted in the fifth round (152nd overall) last April, is a former minor league baseball player who joined the Texans as a 24-year-old rookie from Rice. He chronicled his rookie season with weekly diary entries for HoustonTexans.com.*

It feels good to be writing this rookie diary and to officially no longer be a rookie.

I really enjoyed my rookie year. We finished the season really strong; I don't think anybody wanted to see us in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn't get help from those other teams to get in, but we shouldn't have been in that situation in the first place. We should've taken care of our business early on in the season and been able to get in. I think we learned a lot from that, and going into next year, we know that we have to start strong and be consistent all the way through the season.

Looking back on the season, it was basically my first year to ever play tight end at all. In college, I was pretty much a receiver, so this was my first time to put my hand down and do blocking and all that kind of stuff. I felt really, really good about what I did. I felt like I did pretty much what they asked me to do. I made the team, which was the first big thing, and I got to play the whole season. I missed that one game due to injury, but all in all, I felt like I had a really good year.

You've always got a lot of room to improve, so I'm really excited about next year already – even though it's only a couple days into the offseason. I'm excited about getting started and working on those things I need to work on and getting back into OTA's and training camp next season.

It's going to be so much different for me this next time around. Your rookie year, you don't know what to expect. You don't know what your body's going to go through. You pretty much don't know anything – you just go out there and do what they tell you and you're trying just to make the team. I've got to try to make it again next year, but this time I'll know what to expect, what to work at, the offseason routine and the whole offense, so I'm not going to have to learn everything all over again. I'm really excited to get going.

At the same time, I know my body needs to rest. My body's really banged up. I've been going straight for over a year now. Pretty much everything on my body is hurting, so I need to take a little time off to rest.

I start school at Rice University next week, so I don't have a lot of time to hang out and relax too much. I'm back home in Azle, Texas, now visiting with friends and family. It'd been a while since I'd been able to come back, so I'm just trying to make the rounds with all my family and all my friends. It's been really good to see everybody.

School starts on Monday. I've got to get my scheduling and my classes sorted out and get back to work so that I can at least start knocking out some of my degree. I came out of college as a true sophomore, so I've got a little bit still left to finish, and the classes I have to take are going to be really hard.

{QUOTE}I'm looking forward to it, but it's going to be a really different experience for me. For the past seven or eight months, I've been an NFL football player. Now, all of a sudden I'm going back to school and I'm just a regular college student – I'm not even going to be playing a sport in college like I used to. Plus, I'm really old. I'm 25, I'm married, I've got a kid on the way, so it's going to be a little weird walking around campus with all that stuff going on. But I understand that I need to get it done because I know I can't play football forever, and I really want to have that Rice degree to fall back on so that I can hopefully get a great job down the road.

I want to thank everybody who's been reading these diaries throughout my rookie year. It's been a crazy ride this first season – a lot of ups, a lot of downs – but in the end, it was a lot of fun. I appreciate everyone's support, and I'm really looking forward to my sophomore campaign and hopefully coming back and doing bigger and better things. I'm also looking forward to the next rookie class coming in and seeing who does the rookie diary next season; I want to be able to see what his life is like compared to what I was going through. Thanks again to everybody for supporting us in 2009, and here's to a great 2010.

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