Rookie diary: James Casey

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Rookie James Casey made a special teams tackle and played his first offensive snap against the Raiders.

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.*

It feels great to be 2-2 now, back at .500. We feel like we played really well against Oakland. We're looking forward now to going to Arizona and trying to get a winning record and keep it that way. We've got 12 games left, and all of our goals are still in front of us. We've got to build on what we've done well and keep pushing forward.

On a personal note in the Oakland game, I got to go in and play quite a bit on special teams. I also got my very first offensive play at fullback. I never would have expected it to come at the fullback position, but I'm happy to be out there and happy to contribute.

It's a play I'll never forget, for my whole career, my whole life. I'm standing on the sidelines and know I'm always one play away, and all of a sudden Vonta Leach goes down with an injury. They call for the personnel and I had to go in there at fullback, and I got my play in and did a good job. Then Vonta came right back in, so I ran right off the field and didn't get in again. But it was still just a thrill for me to get in for that one play.

Jacoby Jones had that long 95-yard kickoff return, and I was in on that play. I think I had a pretty good block that sprung him free. It feels really good when you get your returner free to score a touchdown like that and you feel you're a part of it. As a kickoff return unit, when a guy scores a touchdown, it feels like we all scored a touchdown. We're all excited about it.

Some people have written in asking me what I thought about Jacoby's touchdown dance. I liked it. I thought it was very entertaining. I didn't know exactly what it was, but it looked like he had it all planned out and it looked really good.

I ended up recovering one of their kicker's pooch kicks in the game, too. I had to run down and jump on it as fast as I could to make sure the other team didn't get it, and that was my first time to touch a football in an NFL game. Even though I have one return now for zero yards, I still got my hands on the ball. Hopefully, the next time I get my hands on the ball, I'll take it more than zero yards.

I also got in on punt and punt return because of some injuries. I was in on punt team on the wing and wound up making a tackle, which felt great. I felt like I was contributing.

I'm having a blast, just to be in the NFL and to actually be getting in the games more now. Hopefully, I'll keep working hard, keep getting better and keep getting out there more. Like I've said before, I don't want to be an ordinary player. I want to do great things. And to do that, I've got to make sure that I'm ready to take advantage of any opportunities that I get.

{QUOTE}We had a big week last week with beating Oakland, but unfortunately Anthony Hill came down with the swine flu. It's one of those things where you kind of see it in the news, you read about it in the newspaper and you hear all the bad things about it, but you never expect it to affect anybody you know – let alone Anthony, a tight end who I'm in meetings with all the time and whose locker is right next to mine.

All of us were really worried about Anthony at first because nobody knows much about the swine flu, but luckily he's fine now and he's been at practicing all this week and doing great. We're fortunate to be in the NFL and have all of these great doctors and trainers around us, so they're really taking care of us.

We've had a lot of guys who had been under the weather, but I think everybody's feeling a lot better now. So hopefully we're done with the sicknesses for a long time.

Everybody in the media has been comparing Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald this week. I'm extremely biased because I'm around Andre all the time and I get to watch him practice every day and hang out with him in the locker room, but of course I think Andre's the best wide receiver in the NFL.

I don't know Larry Fitzgerald and don't get to watch him in practice, but it's just hard for me to believe that there's somebody out there that's better than Andre with his work ethic and the catches he makes day in and day out.

I've looked up to both of those guys for a while. Although I'm a tight end and fullback now, I was a receiver in college, so I'm always watching the amazing things that Andre and Larry do and trying to take in any pointers that I can. I don't have the blazing speed that both of those two guys have, so I've got to do some other stuff myself and be a little bit bigger, more physical.

We know we're in for a battle this week. The Arizona Cardinals went to the Super Bowl last year, so we know they're a great team and they've got great players, especially on offense. We're excited to have a chance to go out there and play. We've got to take the same attitude that we had when we went up to Tennessee and came out with that win.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for everyone who came out to the Raiders game and supported us. If you have any questions that you'd like answered or any comments for a future rookie diary, feel free to [e-mail them in](mailto:nscurfield@houstontexans.com?subject=James Casey Rookie Diary question/comment).
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