GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Rob Housler doesn’t like to plan his touchdown celebrations, but he had this one in mind.
Midway through his third season, the Arizona Cardinals tight end had yet to find the end zone, and this year, especially, he’s been hearing about it. When coach Bruce Arians was hired in January, he introduced a pass-happy offense that would feature the tight ends. This was the season Housler was expected to break through, but an ankle injury in preseason forced him out of the Cardinals’ first two games and slowed his progress.
Housler underperformed all season, until Sunday. He broke out in the Cardinals’ 27-24 win against the Houston Texans with a season-high 57 yards and his first career touchdown. After initially lining up as a fullback, then breaking out to the left side of the line, Housler was thrown a screen and took it 12 yards for a score.
That’s when he broke out the celebration. He viciously ripped the proverbial monkey off his back as his teammates mobbed him.
“I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble by asking them to get involved, so I was just like, ‘I’m going to take this monkey off myself,'" Housler said.
With the monkey now gone, Housler can be another option for quarterback Carson Palmer in an offense that’s starting to finally find its personality. When Housler was struggling, that facet of the offense was essentially erased. With him able to stretch the field, the Cardinals have more ways to benefit off the run.
And Arians thinks Sunday’s outing will benefit Housler.
“It should be a great confidence boost for him,” Arians said. “Carson was looking for him a number of times.”
Palmer had tried all season to get Housler involved, but something clicked Sunday. He wasn’t just catching passes, he was cutting back, getting extra yards.
With each catch, the burden of the past eight games seemed further in the distance. It wasn’t something Housler concerned himself with, it was just placed there by other sources. But none of that matters now. The burden and the monkey are gone.
“You try not to think about it, but it does weigh on you a little bit,” Housler said. “It’s just something we take in stride, because whatever you do to distract yourself, you’re not focused on your job.
“You hold yourself to a standard but you don’t really let it bother you. I think a lot of the external pressure’s off me, but it never really bothered me in the first place.”