Rookie tight end Rob Housler waits for playing time behind Jeff King and Todd Heap.
Cardinals' rookie tight end Rob Housler knows what it's like to sit on the bench.
In 2008 heading into his senior season at University of Florida-Atlantic, he volunteered to redshirt, letting two other senior tight ends play instead.
"It was a mutual decision between myself and [head coach] Howard Schnellenberger," Housler said. "It was a decision that benefitted the team and me as well, so it was kind of a win-win."
Housler may have gotten the better win from that agreement. After sitting out the 2009 season for the Owls, Housler had his best season. He started all 12 games and put up career highs with 39 catches, 629 yards and four touchdowns.
"Anytime you can spend another year developing your game and what not I don't think it's going to hurt you," said Housler. "So I think it really did help me out."
After posting the fastest 40-yard dash time at the NFL combine--something he made a goal of--Housler became the Cardinals' highest drafted tight end since 1996 when he was chosen they in the third round with the 69th overall pick of the draft.
In his rookie season with the Cardinals, Housler finds himself again with a team loaded at the tight end position. After drafting Housler, the Cardinals signed free agents Todd Heap and Jeff King.
Heap, an 11-year vet and two-time Pro Bowler, has started all three games this season and King, known for his blocking, has scored two touchdowns in the first three weeks of the season. The six-year veteran sees a lot of promise in the rookie tight end.
"I think he has a chance to be really good," said King. "Physically he's really athletic but like anything else there is a learning curve and he's coming along with that."
Coming in as a rookie, Housler said he wasn't sure how the Cardinals would use him.
"As we acquired these guys from free agency it just became more and more of a teaching tool for myself."
Housler is well aware of the advantages that come with playing behind two talented veterans in the NFL.
"I watch them and the way they execute as professionals and try to model that because they are both successful guys and you don't have a 10-year career by accident," said Housler.
King understands what it's like for a rookie to count on the veterans of the team to help in development process. He had veteran Kris Mangum help him in Carolina, and King wants to be the same kind of mentor for Housler.
Housler is channeling some of the patience he learned from his redshirt year.
"It is a little bit of an adjustment but it's one you have to make as a professional and understand your role and understand how it affects you," said Housler.
Housler's role calls for him to play special teams, backing up the starters during practice and playing some practice squad.
Housler has worked his entire football career to get where he is. He came out of high school in the football hotbed that is Texas, but UFA was the only Division-I school to offer him a scholarship. Housler knew the better competition would help him become a better player, so he packed up and attended the school just off the Atlantic coast in south Florida.
He brought that determination to the NFL. Housler he will be ready when the Cardinals need him.
"You have to be ready in case, you know, like last week when Todd went down (briefly)," said Housler. "You don't get the reps, you don't get the attention that the first two guys do but that doesn't mean you're not ready."