Questions at tight end

Posted by Darren Urban on August 22, 2013 – 9:13 am

When Bruce Arians walked in the door, one of the first things he emphasized was that he was a two-tight end man.

The tight end was a key in his offense. Fullbacks were unnecessary (and in this case, a surprising bargaining chip of the offseason, after Anthony Sherman was traded for the impressive cornerback Javier Arenas.) The roster was shaped, a (seventh-round) draft pick was spent on a tight end and Arians went about building his offense. As training camp comes to a close, tight end remains important to the Cardinals. But questions swirl around the position, especially since they are so important.

Tight end starts with Rob Housler. He’s had a quiet preseason, but Arians said that is because he wanted to look at other players. “It’s more blocking and I think he’s improved tremendously,” Arians said. “He’s had some he could have finished better, but I think he’s improved in his all-around. We know he can run and catch. We’ve got a bunch of packages where we can feature him. He’s a given to me. I don’t need to see that part.”

Housler will be a given as receiver (and in my opinion, he has improved as a blocker.) Beyond him? Right now, factoring in practice reps, health, production, the under-the-radar Jim Dray is No. 2. Dray is fascinating in some regards. The one-time seventh-rounder keeps sticking around, an excellent special teams player under Ken Whisenhunt and now the kind of guy drawn up perfectly for Arians — with the ability to drop into the backfield as an H-back/fullback if needed. Veteran Jeff King was supposed to be in the mix, but continuing knee troubles have kept him sidelined a ton, and you have to wonder about his future. Kory Sperry was impressing Arians early and he’ll need to be around.

D.C. Jefferson, the seventh-round rookie, looks the part and seems like he has promise. But he is so raw he may be better suited to the practice squad, if he can clear waivers. I’m not sure Mickey Shuler has made enough in-roads to stick around.

You figure the Cards need at least four tight ends on the active roster. Tight end remains, in my mind, the number one position Steve Keim will watch as cuts are made across the league. While it’s no lock the Cards claim/sign another tight end, it wouldn’t be surprising at all. It’s too important to Arians not to keep searching.


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Posted in Blog | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “Questions at tight end”

  1. By Allan on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    What about Gottlieb? Very versitile..physical blocker and can catcht. Hasn’t gotten many reps yet. Maybe this week.

  2. By Darren Urban on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    Allan —

    RE: Gottlieb

    I do not think he will be in the mix.

  3. By Patrick Hoog aka Don't Take Losses on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    Keen article, have noticed Dray’s improvement. Btw, he has dropped the knee brace. So he feels more confident in his knee as well.

    King just may recover, but if not, Keim has to do his thing.

  4. By Mike G on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren–Hope all is well! I hope Jeff King can bounce back from his nagging knee injuries and contribute and impress the coaches. Tight end has been a weak spot for the Cards the last couple years. Im sure they don’t want King to turn into another Todd Heap situation. I hope Housler can develop into a nice player on offense but the Cards need a couple other bodies as well given Arians’ offense.
    Darren –Is Jim Dray’s blocking up to snuff at this point in his career?????? I know he is still a young guy.

  5. By Darren Urban on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    Mike G —

    RE: Dray

    He has played pretty well.

  6. By C.M PUNK on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    jim dray reminds me of a guy by the name steve bush since im from cleveland i went to the game where he ALMOST BROKE HIS NECK IN ONE OF THE NASTIEST HITS IV EVER SEEN IN LIVE ACTION,,,

  7. By joe67 on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    I like Jeff King as well. Hope he can come back. TE been a problem since the days of Jackie Smith and then JV Cain.

  8. By Corgon on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    For this system we are thin at TE. That’s a fact. We’ll get someone else. I’m sure.

  9. By georgiebird on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    Since Jay Novachek and Robert Awalt were allowed to get away, there has been a problem with TE. About 35 years.

  10. By Eazy E on Aug 22, 2013 | Reply

    We better do something about this and fast. We better be looking at the waiver wire and some free agents because I’m not quite sold on Housler. I like him and he has to get a pass the past couple years because of the pathetic QB play but we are far from good at TE. Also, behind him are Jim Dray and Injury prone Jeff King. Ugh, not the best in the league. #HELP

  11. By Mark on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    For a system that is supposed to rely so heavily on tight ends, i have yet to see it. Tight end regardless of who was playing propbaly have less than 50 yards total among them. I think it’s blocking more so than catching that is important to Arians. Sperry and king haven’t even played. Housler unimpressive. Jefferson’s big play was a 3 yard catch. I’m not knocking any of the tight ends on the squad, but i expected to see a lot more short passes to tight ends than i have seen. You have to include Gottlieb on the list because Sperry and King have zero participation in preseason games. Gottlieb can also back up Leach. I think it’s more about who can block. I hope to see more of a short game against San Diego, otherwise i think all the talk about the importance of tight ends in this “system” since the begining of camp is a bunch of nonsense.

  12. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: “Relying on tight ends”

    Relying on the position doesn’t mean they will make all the catches. It’s within the scheme of the offense.

  13. By Mark on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    Hi Darren,
    I hear you and understand what you are saying. i would have thought that the “scheme” would have included throwng the ball to the tight ends also. Hopefully we’ll see more on Saturday. GO CARDS!

  14. By Darren Urban on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    Mark —

    RE: TEs

    On a related note, Arians has specifically said they have kept Housler under wraps as a receiver this preseason. We’ll see how that turns out.

  15. By Mark on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    Hey Darren. I suppose Housler dropping the only pass thrown to him is all part of some grand master plan.

  16. By Mark on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply

    Darren I was kidding. .

  17. By jasonc on Aug 23, 2013 | Reply


    Go back and look at Arians teams when he was the offensive coordinator. While his offense uses a lot of tight ends they don’t feature the tight ends like say a Norv Turner offense. The biggest single receiving year by a tight end in a Bruce Arians ran NFL offense was Heath Miller 76-789-6 in 2009, and that was BY far the best season.

  18. By Annette Richters on Aug 24, 2013 | Reply

    Gentlemen, From what I can see BA uses tight ends as 3rd & short to average (2- 4) yard sure 1st downs, blockers for the running backs, and routes over the middle where receivers get nailed, isn’t that called the slot or slut or something like that? That doesn’t change much across the league according to my limited knowledge. (you have to remember I’m a lady and football smarts is supposed to belong to you guys) Where AB likes the two tight end set is the disruption, seems to me he mentioned that when he let our Shermanator go, so the defense has no clear cut path. When Sherman was in you knew the odds were Whiz was running the ball. That seems to make sense to me, but again, I’m just a gal so what do I know

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