GLENDALE, Ariz. — To whom much is given, much is expected.
And the expectations for Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler heading into his third NFL season are high. Many have pegged the former third-round pick (69th overall) as their breakout player for 2013.
So far in the preseason, though, Housler’s only breakout play — statistically speaking — has been breaking out of the pre-snap huddle.
He has zero catches in two games and has been targeted only once — Carson Palmer’s first pass attempt last week against the Dallas Cowboys.
“I’m not worried about the numbers right now,” Housler said Tuesday. “I’ve never complained about targets or receptions. The outside perception may see the numbers and may see maybe a question mark there, but I don’t. I have a lot of confidence in our system and the way things have been going in practice, so it’s not really a big concern for me.”
Arians, when asked about the lack of balls thrown in Housler’s direction, said the 25-year-old is “a given to me, so I don’t need to see that part. Right now, we’re not featuring Robby a lot in the passing game. It’s more blocking, and I think he’s improved tremendously.”
Housler, who caught 45 passes for 417 yards a season ago, has probably spent more time in the backfield or near the line of scrimmage helping pass protect and opening up running lanes.
“I’ve had a good chance to work on other things in my game, and those are things that you can’t really simulate in practice,” said Housler. “It’s all about being a versatile player. As much as I like running around, I got to be there and I got to be able to block, hold edges and pass protect. I take a lot of pride in that.
“I want to see other guys going down the field. If we have to block with seven people, then we’re going to do it. That’s just the way it is. (Arians) will dial it up and you just run it, and you want to be successful at everything he does.”
Housler’s size and speed — he’s 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds and ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the 2011 NFL Combine — would appear to be a natural fit in Arians’ offense that often features two, and sometimes three, tight ends.
“We know he can run and catch,” Arians said. “If we want to feature him, we’ve got a bunch of packages where we can feature him.”