Bears' Housler catching some attention at tight end
Rob Housler is one of six tight ends on the Bears' roster vying for a final spot on the 53-man squad behind starter Zach Miller.
Housler's 52-yard catch and run in last Thursday's second preseason game helped his candidacy and showcased the skill set that the sixth-year veteran brings to the competition.
"Well, I'd like to score," Housler said with a laugh when asked about the big play on which he was forced out of bounds at the Patriots' six-yard line. "But putting pressure on the defense down the field is my strength."
Housler, who was picked up by the Bears last December after he was released by the Cleveland Browns, also caught a Jay Cutler pass for a 2-point conversion against the Patriots.
It may have been only a preseason game to some, but for players battling for a roster spot, even if it's ultimately on another team, it's always important to make a few look-at-me plays.
"Any time you get to go on the field and put yourself on tape is a big opportunity," said Housler, who played his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals after they drafted him in the third round (69th overall) in 2011. "I don't look at (one game) as any bigger than the others, but the whole NFL's watching, not just your team."
Housler's game is similar to Miller's. Both are athletic but undersized compared to tight ends who can function effectively as physical in-line blockers. That similarity to Miller can be an advantage for Housler. Any play designed to take advantage of Miller's agility and pass-catching ability is also a play that fits what Housler does best.
"He's obviously the starter; he's the guy," Housler said of Miller. "(But) we're the same skill set."
If the 6-foot-5, 250-pound Housler didn't have rare athleticism, he probably wouldn't have been a pole vaulter in high school who considered the decathlon before opting for football full time.
"A 6-foot-5 pole vaulter?" Housler was asked.
"Oh, don't shortchange me here, don't shortchange me," Housler joked. "I'm 6-6. Don't let the media guide fool you. Yeah, it was either that or football, and I made a choice my junior year, and here I am."
Housler put together impressive back-to-back seasons with the Cardinals in 2012 and 2013, catching a combined 84 passes for 871 yards, but he hasn't approached those numbers since. In four late games with the Bears last season he had 3 catches for 27 yards.
But at age 28, the thought of replicating his best seasons isn't far-fetched.
"I'm very capable of doing that," Housler said. "I was fortunate to be part of good ballclubs (with the Cardinals) and get some balls thrown my way. You're always going to say you've still got it or you're better than you were. But I truly feel that way."
Not that Housler wants to dwell on those glory days. He'd prefer to look ahead with a sense of humor.
"I think the quote goes, 'The older you get, the better you were,' " he said. "As far as those numbers go, I don't even know what they are. You never look back. You're always looking forward."
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