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TE Rob Housler adds element to Browns passing game

After being courted by AFC North rivals Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals, tight end Rob Housler chose the Cleveland Browns on Thursday.

"I had really good conversations with coach (Mike) Pettine and Ray (Farmer), the coaching staff – and I just felt a really good vibe from this place," Housler said. "And opportunities. I'm looking for opportunities."

There will be opportunity in Cleveland, where Housler and his sub 4.5-second 40-yard dash speed arguably catapult to the forefront of the tight ends room alongside Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge.

Offensive coordinator John DeFilippo communicated to Housler that he wants to line up receivers, running backs and tight ends all over the field, something that suits Housler's playing style. Housler said DeFilippo was adamant about bringing out the strengths of all of his players on offense.

"I like to be able to stretch the defense," Housler said. "It will help the guys on the outside. If you can have a tight end that can threaten the safeties down the middle, then it opens up guys on the outside.

"And if you've got guys on the outside, like Cleveland does, that can really stretch the field, then it opens up the middle. I'll bring balance to the passing game and an element to the run game. That's what I can bring to this team."

While recalling his four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, Housler agreed his former team maybe could've used him as more of a vertical threat. The former third-round pick out of Florida Atlantic amassed 168 targets in Arizona, but was rarely utilized in the red zone. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Housler totaled only one touchdown.

"If you have the targets, then you can have the stats," Housler said. "Without trying to spitball any numbers or anything, there is that opportunity here. I think with Flip's offense, he's going to spread it around. I saw that chance to be here and make an impact."  

Another reason Housler chose the Browns, an insight that was echoed by quarterback Josh McCown, was Cleveland's offensive line and running game. Opposing linebackers who will be marking Housler will also be just as concerned with stopping Isaiah Crowell and Terrance West – or getting mauled by a pulling guard like Joel Bitonio.

"This offense has balance," Housler said. "That's going to open up play-action passes, which does get your tight ends and slot guys open, which is an intriguing element in my mind."

Housler is expected be in attendance when OTAs begin on April 20.

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