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 the season opener and his upcoming first NFL road trip.

A lot of the media asked me yesterday about the possibility that I might start at fullback this week, and I'm excited about it. Everybody says this game is about getting opportunities and taking advantage of them. I don't know what's going to happen, how well Vonta's going to be or not on Sunday, but I'm preparing like I'm going to start like I do every week.

If I do get a chance to start and play a lot, I've just got to try and take advantage of my opportunity and give everything I've got on every play.

They told us earlier that we have to have suits when we travel to go to away games. Not being sure if I was going to make the team, I didn't go out and get a suit until I for sure knew that I was going to be here and be traveling to Tennessee. So now that I know I'm going, I had to go get a suit – and I've never had a suit before, ever. I'm not the type of guy that's real fashionable about what I'm wearing or anything like that.

So I had to figure out how to get a suit in a hurry, and I did not realize how expensive they were. Some guy came up to my apartment and took my measurements for it. I had no idea about anything as far as what to get, colors or what matches what, so he kind of just told me what he thought and I was like, "OK, that sounds good." I think I'm going to get two of them for the season, so hopefully guys won't make fun of me too much if I'm not looking right. I didn't even have a suit for my own wedding – I rented one – so I think my wife is really excited about this because I never dress up for anything.

As far as the game last week, we're very disappointed in the loss and how we played. You definitely don't want to start it off that way. But at the same time, you've got to learn from it and move on and get ready for the next game. In this game, you can't get too high or too low. We understand that's not acceptable and that we can't play like that again, so we've got to make sure to do whatever it takes to fix it in a hurry and get ready to go this week against the Titans.

{QUOTE}On a personal level, it was my first NFL football game, and that was the moment that it finally felt like it was real, this was really happening. Even after I made the 53-man roster, I realized you only suit up 45 guys a game, so there was still a chance that I might not actually get to play. I was fortunate enough in that first game to get in there for five or six plays on special teams. It was an amazing experience to be able to say that I played an NFL football game.

But at the same time, you need to stay hungry. You kind of see it happen in college with guys where you work your whole life to get to this point – to get a scholarship to go play college football or to get to the NFL – and then once you get here, you think, 'I got there, I made it; I accomplished what I set out to do.' But now, you've got to reset your goals and have bigger aspirations.

The first goal for me is to try and get on the field as much as possible. Being a competitor, you want to be on the field and playing. If you don't, you shouldn't be out there at all, because that means you're scared to go out there and play or you're content with just sitting on the sidelines. Everybody should have dreams of playing in the Super Bowl, winning the Super Bowl, going to Pro Bowls, going to the Hall of Fame and all that great stuff. It sounds like it could never happen, but you at least have to believe it to give yourself a chance. But my main goal right now is to play in the NFL as long as possible, try to help the Texans win as many games as possible and do the great things that I know the fans deserve and that us as Texans want to achieve.

One other cool thing about the game was that the New York Jets have a guy on their team named Larry Izzo, who went to Rice University. It was kind of strange, because the first class I had at Rice was a sports psychology class that I mentioned in the last diary. He actually came and spoke to that class, and I was one of the students in that class as a freshman.

It's weird looking back on that, sitting in a classroom as a freshman and not knowing anything about your future while Larry Izzo talks to you and then actually being on the same field with him and getting to talk with him pregame and postgame about things and about Rice. We're few and far between; there might be four of us Rice guys right now on NFL teams. So it was a really cool experience to get to meet him again.

A lot of things that I'm getting to do still kind of amaze me, like going to the Go Texan Store at Reliant Stadium this week and signing autographs for people. It was just me, too; they had a little poster that said, "Signing with James Casey from 6-7." I really wasn't expecting too many people to be there, but there happened to be a lot of fans who showed up and wanted my autograph, and a lot of people from Rice came and showed support.

On top of that, they made a couple jerseys just for the signing. Even though they don't sell them there all the time, to be able to see my jersey, that's something you really do dream about as a kid – somebody actually buying your jersey and wearing it around. There were only like five of them that they made just for that autograph session. People bought two of them, and I bought three of them. I have a lot of family and friends who have been asking me about jerseys and I don't really know what to tell them about how to get one, so I had to buy a few to give away. (EDITOR'S NOTE: You can buy personalized Texans jerseys here)

Before I forget, I want to give a shout out to a girl named Sarah who's probably my biggest fan. Every time I do some kind of signing, like on Tuesday, she's always waiting right at the front of the line. Her mom told me that during training camp, they were waiting at like 6 in the morning to get into practice just so Sarah could see me. She's a little girl, maybe like 8, 9 or 10, but I really appreciate all of her support.

I'm definitely looking forward to this Titans game. When you have a game like we did last week, you've got a bad taste in your mouth. You want to get on the field right away and redeem yourself and show that you're a lot better than what we showed last week. Right after the game Sunday, I went home and worked out because I was like, "Man, I just really need to focus and start working even harder." Hopefully, I can contribute and do a great job whenever I get in the game this week and give everything I've got, be relentless out there and help the team come out and play really well.

If anybody has any questions or ideas for a future rookie diary entry, please [send in an e-mail](mailto:nscurfield@houstontexans.com?subject=James Casey Rookie Diary) and I'll be happy to take a look at it. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.

**James Casey rookie diary archive

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