Rookie tight end Rob Housler makes a reception against Pittsburgh last weekend.
Eventually, Rob Housler will be known for the catches he makes.
Right now, though, the rookie tight end is probably better known for the two he couldn't reel in – wide-open passes down the seam, both of which should have been touchdowns, except that quarterback Kevin Kolb couldn't find a way to complete the pass.
"Those are two big plays that could have changed the outlook of both those games," Housler said. "They are plays where I need to be here or there or whatever needs to change, where Kevin and I need to be on the same page and execute. That's just the name of the game."
With veteran Todd Heap playing, Housler had just one reception the first four games, but he has five (for 53 yards) with the last two games with Heap sitting out with a hamstring injury – and his speed has shown up, even if Kolb and he couldn't connect.
"We are a better team with Todd and Rob and Jeff (King playing)," offensive coordinator Mike Miller said. "But it's the old adage, someone goes down, you have to have someone ready to step in."
Miller said Housler actually blocked better against Pittsburgh, an important fact given that Housler's weakness coming out of Florida Atlantic was and is his blocking skills. There is little question he can stretch the field and get open, which is why he was drafted.
Housler hasn't had the easiest introduction to the league. The lockout prevented him from doing anything in the offseason with the coaches after being drafted. The Cards signed both King and Heap right before camp. His own signing came the day after report day of training camp, and he actually tried to report to camp anyway, unsigned (which is an NFL no-no, and he was sent away).
Then Housler hurt his groin in camp, losing valuable practice time.
"It's been an interesting ride since I got here, with the lockout and signing Todd and King," Housler said. "I just wanted to be ready with limited reps. When Todd went down, that was my chance. I'm not trying to shy away from my responsibility."
WARY OF Q CONVERSATION
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald issued a warning of sorts to cornerbacks A.J. Jefferson and Patrick Peterson when it came to covering former Cardinals teammate Anquan Boldin in Baltimore Sunday.
"He said, 'Don't say anything back to him,' " Jefferson said. "He's like (Carolina's) Steve Smith, that kind of stuff fires him up. So if he says something, don't say anything back to him, just laugh it off."
Here's the only problem: Both young Cardinals corners are the type to relish some in-game verbal battles.
"That's what I like to do as well," Peterson said. "In the end, you have to play football."
Peterson said Boldin is a "bully" in terms of the style he likes to play, and Jefferson said he wants to be careful not to let Boldin get his hands on him too much and possibly push him off stride. As for talking, "I'm the kind of guy who if you say something, I say something back," Jefferson acknowledged. "But in this case, maybe I won't."
SHERMAN ADDS A DIMENSION?
Offensive coordinator Mike Miller said he was impressed with how fullback Anthony Sherman has been playing, noting the 15-yard athletic reception the rookie snared against the Steelers. Sherman has yet to get a rushing attempt this season, but he does have five catches for 51 yards.
"It shows them I can contribute in more than one way, and that's the biggest thing," Sherman said. "You have to do your job, whatever is required of you, on that play. If it's to block, it's to block. The coaches know you can catch and do other things, and if they want to utilize it, they'll draw something up in a play."