Cincinnati Bengal's seventh-round pick in 2001 NFL Draft returns for second NFL season
with high promise ÷ Started slowly as a rookie due to preseason injury, but flashed
near seasonŪs end with 14 catches for 161 yards in Games 14-15 ÷ Became a primary
contributor on punt and kickoff returns by seasonŪs end ÷ Averaged 13.6 yards on
punt returns, including an 86-yarder, and set a team record for most punt return
yards in a game (126).
2001 PARTICIPATION: Drafted by Cincinnati in seventh round (204th overall)
÷ Signed July 18 ÷ Played in Games 3 and 6-16 ÷ Inactive for Games 1-2 and 4-5 ÷
Unable to play at start of season due to left heel injury suffered in preseason ÷
Got credit for one start, Dec. 23 at Baltimore ÷ Saw limited action Jan. 6 at Tennessee,
sidelined early by right ankle sprain.
2001 HIGHLIGHTS: Finished rookie season with 21 pass receptions for 228 yards,
12 punt returns for 13.6 avg. and 10 kickoff returns for 18.5 avg. ÷ Made NFL debut
Sept. 30 at San Diego and had a 10-yard punt return ÷ Led the Bengals Nov. 11 at
Jacksonville with 6 catches and 62 receiving yards, and he also had a key downfield
block on Corey DillonŪs second-quarter TD run ÷ Had catches of 23 and 5 yards at
Jacksonville on BengalsŪ TD drive in the second quarter ÷ Assumed punt returning
duties Nov. 25 at Cleveland for injured Peter Warrick and set team record with 126
punt return yards on 5 returns (25.2 average), including an 86-yarder to the Cleveland
5 ÷ Previous Bengals mark for punt return yards in a game had been 106 by Tommy Casanova
on Oct. 8, 1972 vs. Denver ÷ The 86-yarder vs. Cleveland tied for the third-longest
punt return in team history, and the 126 total was the most punt return yards in
a game by an AFC player in 2001 ÷ Led the Bengals in receiving Dec. 23 at Baltimore
with 63 yards on 5 catches ÷ Was in the lineup for the first play at Baltimore and
earned credit for his first start ÷ Also at Baltimore, had 3 kickoff returns for
56 yards (18.7) and a 4-yard punt return ÷ Had season highs of 9 catches and 98 yards
in victory Dec. 30 vs. Pittsburgh, including 3 catches for 33 yards on the game-tying
TD drive in the fourth quarter ÷ Also drew a 5-yard pass interference call against
Steelers on the tying TD drive ÷ One of his catches on the drive was a 20-yarder
on a third-and-6 play.
KITNAŪS EYE WAS ON T.J.: Though only a seventh-round draft pick, Houshmandzadeh
showed he has the size and speed to be a significant presence on the field in key
situations. One example: On Dec. 30 vs. Pittsburgh, when the Bengals drove 10 plays
in the fourth quarter for a game-tying TD, the first 6 passes by QB Jon Kitna were
intended for Houshmandzadeh. Three were complete, one resulted in a pass interference
call against Pittsburgh, and two were incomplete.
COLLEGE: As an Oregon State senior in 2000, Houshmandzadeh was the top-producing
WR in a passing game that helped spark Beavers to No. 4 national ranking and a Fiesta
Bowl victory over Notre Dame ÷ Including Fiesta Bowl, caught 48 passes for 730 yards
with 7 TDs on the season ÷ His WR teammate at OSU, Chad Johnson, joined Bengals last
season as a second-round draft pick ÷ Played his freshman and sophomore seasons at
Cerritos (Ariz.) College ÷ Had a 100-yard KOR for a TD in each of his Cerritos seasons.
PERSONAL: Born in Victor Valley, Calif. ÷ Hometown is Barstow, Calif. ÷ Played
RB for Barstow High School and led club to a 10-1-1 record as a senior ÷ Offseason
residence is Los Angeles ÷ Has one child, Karrington (born 8-2-00) ÷ Favorite hobbies
are spending time with family, basketball, pool and PlayStation ÷ Physical education
major at Oregon State ÷ Full name is Touraj Houshmandzadeh ÷ First name is pronounced
"TOO-raj" and last name is pronounced "hoosh(rhymes with push)-mahn-ZAH-duh."
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