Joel Dreessen and rookie Anthony Hill filled in at tight end last week in Houston’s first game since a season-ending knee injury to star Owen Daniels.
When the Texans return from their bye with a game against Tennessee next Monday night, they hope to have versatile rookie James Casey back to contribute at the position after arthroscopic knee surgery.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll play,” Casey said Monday after returning to practice exactly two weeks since undergoing surgery on his right knee. “It’s going to take something very severe to keep me from playing.”
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While most of the Texans spent their bye week traveling and relaxing, Casey was at Reliant Stadium rehabbing his injured knee. The fifth-round pick spent 3-4 hours a day in the training room, doing everything he could to get his knee back into playing shape.
Casey has appeared in all but one game this season and has become a key special teams player for the Texans. He injured his knee Oct. 4 against the Raiders, but played the next four games before opting for surgery to repair damaged cartilage.
He’s looking forward to getting back on the field healthier and without the large brace he’s worn since the Oakland game.
“My knee was hurting to start with and then to have that big brace, my mobility was really cut down,” he said. “I’m really excited about getting that big brace off and being able to move around like I know I can.”
Dreessen will likely start against the Titans, but the Texans plan to get Casey more involved in the offense with Daniels out. Daniels still leads the team with five touchdown catches and is second with 519 yards receiving.
“(Casey) can do some things for us offensively,” coach Gary Kubiak said. “He’ll become a big part of what we’re doing here over the course of the next seven weeks.”
Casey hopes to team with Dreessen and Hill to fill the void left by Daniels.
“You can’t really replace Owen, but as a tight ends group hopefully we can work together to try to help replace what he was doing out there,” he said.
Andre Johnson first noticed Casey when he was at Rice, where he had 1,914 yards receiving and 392 yards rushing in two seasons. That came after a three-year minor league baseball career.
“I always thought he was a very talented guy,” Johnson said. “I think he has great hands. It’s great that he’s feeling better now and I’m pretty sure if he’s out on the field Monday night with us, he will help us out a whole lot.”
Casey honed his receiving skills in college but has been working on blocking since joining the Texans.
“I just want to be an all-around good tight end and whenever they give me chances just try to show them what I can do, show the Texans and everyone else that I can contribute and hopefully be a good NFL player,” he said.