TD receptions haven't quite been 'a given'

Carson Palmer's arrival by trade should help the Arizona Cardinals recover from a three-year struggle at the quarterback position. Bruce Arians' arrival as head coach means additional playing time for tight ends in his fullback-free offense.

2010-2012 TE Touchdown Catches

With Palmer behind center and talented tight end Rob Housler running routes, the Cardinals should accomplish something in 2013 that eluded them in two of the past three seasons. They should complete a touchdown pass to a tight end. They should do it more than once.

Arizona ranks last in the NFL with 42 total touchdown receptions since 2010. The team also ranks last over that span in percentage of touchdown passes to tight ends (9.5).

Some of that seems understandable. Most teams don't have a wide receiver such as Larry Fitzgerald. Arizona has been stronger at that position. But the percentage of team touchdown receptions going to tight ends is 36.4 percent for Andre Johnson's Houston Texans, 24.7 percent for Calvin Johnson's Detroit Lions and 26.3 percent for the 31 teams other than Arizona.

Housler has yet to catch a pass through two exhibition games, but Arians said the team was focusing on Housler's blocking. He said the receiving part was "a given" for Housler in his offense. Housler did lead NFC West tight ends in receptions with 45 last season.

Arians' 2012 Indianapolis Colts offense completed five touchdown passes to tight ends, tied for 17th in the NFL. His Pittsburgh Steelers' offenses of the previous two seasons completed seven to tight ends, which ranked tied for 26th. The percentages of total team touchdown passes going to tight ends were 21.7 percent with the Colts and 16.3 percent during his final two seasons with the Steelers.

Every team is different. The percentages will not carry over from one situation to the next. For Housler and the Cardinals, however, there is only one direction to go.