No Cardinals player has been a more active participant in offensive drills so far this offseason than second-year TE Rob Housler, who team sources suspect could become a much more prominent force this coming season.
“They really think he could be a special weapon looking ahead with his size and speed,” one insider said of the Cardinals’ 2011 third-round draft pick. “Ideally, they would like to get away from so many three-WR sets inside the red zone and pair Housler with either Jeff King or Todd Heap in a lot more two-TE sets. He really seems determined.”
Housler, who has excellent hands to go with a 4.5 40-time, also seems a lot healthier these days after missing four games with a groin injury in his rookie campaign. Unfortunately, King, who led the team's tight ends in receptions last season, is currently on the outside looking in with a partially torn quadriceps tendon in his right leg suffered while working out at the team facility. The good news is that King is expected to be able to participate fully in the team’s training camp later this summer.
“That’s a lot more important than a lot of people might think,” the insider said of King, who is perceived as primarily a lead blocker by most observers but wasted no time making his presence felt with a career-long 48-yard TD catch in his first game as a Cardinal after spending his first five seasons with the Panthers. “King really is very underrated catching the ball, and he is also a big key in terms of helping the other ends with their technique.”
Injuries also took their toll last season on Heap, a former quality starter with the Ravens who missed six games last season because of a hamstring injury and never was able to get fully integrated into the offense. But early indications suggest the Cardinals will be depending on a great deal more from their TE corps in 2012, with a healthier Housler likely leading the way.