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James Casey May Move to Fullback if Team Can’t Ink Leach

Texans third-year tight end James Casey may move to fullback if the team cannot re-sign Pro Bowler Vonta Leach, writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle.

A former baseball player who played just two seasons of football at Rice, Casey caught 157 passes for 1,914 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Owls. At 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, Casey projected to tight end/H-back in the NFL, but is a gifted athlete who began his college career as a safety before moving to defensive end and then to the offensive side of the ball. During his freshman year, Casey played seven positions in a game against Southern Mississippi, catching a pair of passes, rushing for 39 yards and a touchdown, and assisting on a sack and recovering a fumble.

McClain reports that Casey has added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason in preparation of a move to fullback.

“Everyone wants Vonta back, and he wants to be here. But we all know this is a business, and you never know what’s going to happen,” Casey said. “That’s not something I can control. But it’s my job to be ready when they need me, regardless of what position it is, and I will be prepared.

“I want to get on the field to help my team win. If you’re not working to become a starter, you’re working to be starting a new career.”

In 31 games with the Texans, the 2009 fifth-round pick has 14 receptions for 162 yards and has 22 tackles on special teams, including a team-high 17 in 2010. Casey has worked as a backup fullback the past two seasons.

“As the backup (fullback) the last two years, I’ve had to learn the position,” Casey said. “When they (coaches) have installed plays, I’ve had to know everything from a fullback’s standpoint. Every game we go into, I have to know exactly what the fullback does and all the pass plays, too, in case something were to happen to Vonta.”

Leach, who turns 30 in November, is coming off a much-deserved Pro Bowl season, and could seek to become one of the NFL’s highest-paid fullbacks. Coming off his first Pro Bowl, Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver became the NFL’s highest-paid fullback, signing a three-year, $11.2 million contract last March.

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