Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler has had a slow start to the season, missing the first two games due to injury and then being held to two catches in the two games since.
Though Housler hasn’t quite made an impact since returning from his preseason ankle injury, head coach Bruce Arians said he’s seen improvement from his tight end in the last few weeks and expects his performance to pick up.
“He’s had two really good weeks of practice, he’s full speed,” Arians said. “He just needs to catch the ball better.
Housler has a tough task this Sunday, however, going against Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly. The 2012 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year has become one of the best inside linebackers in football, and Housler said he’s been preparing for good battle with the second-year player.
“He’s the kind of player defensively you’ve got to scheme for,” Housler said. “He’s pretty dynamic in the way he plays, coverage and the run game. As far as tight ends go, he’s got the athleticism and size to run with you and cover you and it’s going to be a challenge this week.”
Housler is used to being the one creating the mismatches with his own size and speed, but he acknowledged it will be a team effort getting Kuechly off his game.
“If you can run the ball effectively and get him to play the run game and get over the top of him, that’s probably the best way,” Housler said, before adding, “He’s so fast, he’ll probably recover.”
Housler, in his third year out of Florida Atlantic, led Arizona tight ends with 45 receptions and 417 yards in 2012. Carolina has allowed just 225.7 yards per game in the air this season, ranking 12th in the NFL.