Rookie diary: James Casey

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EDITOR'S NOTE:

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

I've been going through practice this week, and as of now, all systems are go. My knee feels great. It feels a lot better than it did before the surgery. I've been full-speed at practice. You don't realize how good it is to be out there practicing until you're taken away from it.

I hurt my knee against Oakland, so I'd been playing awhile with that big brace on it. I'm really excited just to get that big brace off because I can move so much better without that thing on. I'm looking forward to going out there and hopefully showing everybody what I can do when my knee's feeling a lot better.

I'm so excited for this Monday Night Football game. It feels like such a long time since I've played since I missed the Indianapolis game, then we had our bye week and now we're not playing until Monday. But this is the biggest stage in football. A lot of people around the nation watch the game, and you know there are going to be a lot of eyes on you. Being an athlete and being a competitor, you can't ask for more than that. I know the fans are going to be really rowdy and crazy and it's going to be exciting, and I can't wait until it gets here.

As far as playing time, I don't know what I'll get, but I'll just try to watch as much film as I can, work out as much as I can and make sure I'm ready for any opportunities that might come my way. If I do get opportunities, I'll try to take advantage of them and help the team out in any way possible, whether it's special teams or whatever they ask me to do. I'm just trying to help us get a win. This is a big-time game for us, a big divisional game.

During the bye week, I didn't get a lot of time to do much because I was rehabbing a lot. I was up there every morning at eight o'clock, even on Saturday and Sunday doing my rehab and getting a workout in. But I did get to go watch the Rice game on Saturday afternoon because they were playing at home. I got to really enjoy the whole college football experience, which is something I'd never been able to do. It was my first time to be at a football game and have no obligations about playing in that game or playing a game the next day, so I had a lot of fun.

{QUOTE}I got to the game early and got to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in awhile, a lot of people associated with Rice like the parents of the players. A lot of my ex-teammates were at the game, too, because it was Rice's homecoming. I sat with my old quarterback, Chase Clement, at the actual game. The neatest thing is Rice got the win, their first one of the season. They beat Tulane 28-20, and I got to go out on the field after the game and talk to the players before they had to go into the locker room. It was a lot of fun.

I also got a chance during the bye to go to a charity event with the Boys and Girls Country, which is a home for children. I wasn't really familiar with the organization, but a friend of mine asked me to come and sit with him at his table and I jumped at the chance. Any time you can go and help out with something like that, it's a lot of fun.

When I got there, I sat down and realized I was at the same table with Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, two legends of baseball with the Houston Astros. I got to talk to those guys during the whole event, so that was a lot of fun. Also, Dennis Miller was performing, and I got to talk to him after he gave a stand-up routine at the end. It was really cool to get to meet some of those people, and I was happy to be a part of the Boys and Girls Country event and learn a lot about a great organization.

Lastly, I think I've mentioned Johnny Cooper before in some of my previous diaries, but I've got to throw out another plug to him because he's playing tonight at the Armadillo Palace. I didn't really even know about it, but I was just looking around online and saw that he's playing right in my old stomping grounds, down by Rice off of Kirby. The address is 5015 Kirby Drive in Houston, and I think he goes on stage at 10:30.

Thanks again for reading this, and I'm really looking forward to seeing everybody Monday night. It should be an exciting game and a great atmosphere at the stadium.

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