With the Houston Texans losing fullback Lawrence Vickers and tight end Joel Dreessen to free agency, head coach Gary Kubiak will be turning to versatile tight end/fullback James Casey to fill multiple roles on offense, reports John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.
"Heâs going to play everywhere," Kubiak said. "Heâs our starting fullback. Heâs a starting (tight end) if we go to two tights. Itâs still about versatility with James."
The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Casey played multiple positions on both side of the football, and even returned punts, during his two seasons at Rice before the Texans selected him in the fifth round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In 45 games, including 11 starts, over the last three seasons, Casey has 32 receptions for 422 yards and one touchdown with one rushing attempt for 11 yards. Most of that production came last year when Casey's playing time increased from 15 percent in 2009 and 2010 to over 30 percent in 2011.
With Kubiak leaning on Casey to fill two key roles on offense, Casey's playing time will spike again in 2012 as Vickers and Dreessen combined to play over 900 snaps last season. The Texans frequently employ two-tight end personnel groupings and both No. 1 tight end Owen Daniels and Dreessen had playing-time percentages of over 65 percent last season.
"It was sad to see those guys leave," said Casey. "I was really close to Joel. He taught me a lot when I came into the league, and I really looked up to him.
"You have to understand that itâs part of the business. I look at it as an opportunity because there are spots available at tight end and fullback. I donât really know what my role will be right now, but Iâm hoping to take another step forward and be a major contributor to this offense, whatever position it is."