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. In his 12th diary entry for HoustonTexans.com, Casey discusses making it through the final roster cuts.

Saturday was a stressful day with the roster cuts. I was freaking out. I was real nervous, didn't know what was going to happen, didn't know how the process worked. I couldn't sleep after the game on Friday. You're all amped up after a game anyway, but the cuts were that next morning, so I was on edge at everything.

I didn't know what was going to happen. I wasn't certain either way. I felt like I had a really good camp; I know I gave everything I had. I felt like I improved a lot and did a good job during camp, but still you never know what's going to happen on that day of cuts.

I was sitting around all day and just waiting for a phone call either way. I didn't receive a phone call at all, so I was thinking that's a pretty good sign because Coach said they were going to make phone calls to all the guys they were going to cut. It got to like 2 or 3 p.m. and Anthony Hill called me and asked if I got a phone call, and I said no and asked him the same thing and he said no, too. Neither of us had heard anything, so we were both just kind of sitting on edge waiting to see what would happen.

I finally just watched the press conference online at 3:30 just like everybody else and saw Coach Kubiak name the guys who got cut and mention me not being cut. That was when I finally realized I made the team.

That was my first moment where it finally felt real like I'm in the NFL. Even getting drafted, going through OTAs and mini-camp then training camp, it still didn't feel real because you know that cuts are coming up. You know you've got 80 guys on the roster but you've got to cut down to 53. You never feel like you've made it until this point right now and they make the final cuts and you're on the team.

It's a dream come true for me. I know a lot of people use that expression, but ever since I was six years old playing football as a kid, this is what I dreamed about doing – playing in the NFL and getting to be on the biggest stage in the world sports-wise. Coming from Azle, Texas, and then going to play baseball and then to Rice University, to get to this point is just unbelievable. I still can't believe I did it.

{QUOTE}At the same time, I know that I can't get complacent and think that my job is done. There are always free agents out there who could take your job, and nothing is ever guaranteed. I'm never going to take it for granted that I'm here. I'm going to keep working hard and try to stay in this game as long as I can, because it's a pretty good job to have.

I think I mentioned this earlier in one of my diaries, but the NFL Network came and followed me around with some cameras a couple weeks ago for a show called "Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL." It aired on Thursday night on ESPN2, and I think it's going to re-air on Sept. 8 and Sept. 14. They chronicled Michael Crabtree, Knowshon Moreno, Mark Sanchez, Kenny Britt, Michael Oher and then me. There was like five first-round guys and then James Casey, fifth-rounder for the Houston Texans. I'm sure the normal fan out there was like, "Who is this guy for the Houston Texans?"

But I thought the show did a great job with it. I was just sitting on the couch watching myself on ESPN2 realizing there were probably a lot of other people watching it, which was amazing to think about. When the show came on, I was sitting there with my wife, and she just started crying. She was just really emotional that I was on TV, that ESPN2 was chronicling me along with all these other big-time superstars when I'm just a nobody. A lot of people from the nation haven't heard of me, probably a lot of people from Houston haven't heard of me, so it was an unbelievable experience to be on that show. That was probably one of the coolest things I've done so far.

I started at fullback on Friday against the Bucs, and I felt like I had a really good game. The general fan probably isn't too concerned about the fourth preseason game, but for guys like me that are fighting to get on the team, it's the biggest game of our lives going out there.

I thought I did some good things at fullback and tight end. Getting a lot of reps at fullback in a game situation was important for me, and I feel really comfortable there now. I got my first touchdown, too, so obviously that was a huge thrill. To be able to do that, get the win and get good momentum heading into this Jets game, I couldn't have asked for it to work any better.

To everyone who's been reading this, thanks for all your support. There's a lot of tough things you go through as a rookie, but being able to have the fans' support means a lot. I've been getting a lot of mail from fans here at the stadium, and it keeps me motivated to hear people say how much they enjoy watching me play and everything. I just want to try to make everyone proud and keep working hard and try to help give this town what they deserve, a great team. I'm definitely going out there and giving my best every game, and I'm just glad to be here.

I can't wait for Sunday. Our last home game on Monday Night Football was an amazing experience, and I had a lot of friends, a lot of family, people from college and people from my hometown of Azle all there at the stadium. The crowd was electric, and I'm sure it'll be even better against the Jets.

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