Texans TE Owen Daniels: ‘The knee is feeling good again, and I will be ready to go’

Following a 2008 season in which he was named to the Pro Bowl, Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels had a terrific first half of ’09 before blowing out a knee. Daniels, a restricted free agent unless there is a new collective bargaining agreement in place before March 5, hopes the Texabs will build on their first winning season in ’10. He talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about Houston’s prolific passing game, his role in the offense and the budding superstar he faces every day in practice.
 

Owen Daniels on teammate WR Andre Johnson: "He's the best in the business."
Owen Daniels on teammate WR Andre Johnson: “He’s the best in the business.”

Vinnie Iyer: What are your impressions of Texans QB Matt Schaub, who led the league in passing this season?

Owen Daniels: He’s gotten better with every year. He’s now very comfortable three years into the system. The first two, he had a hard time staying healthy. He’s pushed himself, put in the hard work to become more durable. He’s great at studying his reads and being prepared with the game plan.
 
VI: How much does having All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson on your side make the job easier for the rest of you?
OD: He’s the best in the business. He draws so much attention on every play. Teams have to double-cover him and provide the help over the top. It leaves me with so many opportunities. Everyone else has a chance to get open, and when we’re that open it’s our job to make plays.
 
VI: Can you tell us more about the Texans’ other wide receivers: Kevin Walter, David Anderson and Jacoby Jones?
OD: Kevin, you can line up everywhere. He does much of the dirty work for us, blocking out there. David is a guy who just fits well in the slot, our version of Wes Welker. As for Jacoby, his back was kind of against the wall going after his first two seasons because he couldn’t hang on to football, but he’s worked so much on his hands so he could make so many big plays for us last year. He’s making his push to be a No. 2. Hopefully, we all will be back together this season.
 
VI: Knowing your team got so close to the playoffs, how frustrating was it to watch after you went down with your injury?
OD: It was tough. I was playing well individually, and the team was successful with a 5-3 start. It was hard to watch. I had never been in that situation of missing so many games before. So I just tried to help others, the tight ends working to take my place. When you miss time like that, it makes you appreciate your time on the field so much more. Now the knee is feeling good again, and I will be ready to go when it’s time to play.
 
VI: Texans owner Bob McNair just showed great confidence in coach Gary Kubiak, extending his contract. Do you think 2010 is when the team finally gets into the postseason?
OD: I sure hope so. I’m so happy Coach Kub and his staff got that extension. As players, we trust him as a leader. We’ve slowly battled to get to six wins, then eight wins, then 9-7. When we win, it’s been a wide margin, yet, we when lose, it’s been close. The teams that get into the playoffs win those close games. Absolutely, I would like to be back playing for coach Kubiak. I like the play-calling—that tight end is a big part of the offense.
 
VI: When you see what Colts All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark does up close twice a season, how does that affect your game?
OD: You can learn from watching him lining up as everything, such as slot receiver. I’ve learned a lot about running routes just watching guys such as Clark, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates on film.
 
VI: How good is Texans outside linebacker Brian Cushing?
OD: Right off the bat, once he cut his hair as a rookie, you could see how focused he was. He’s just so big, tough and physically gifted. You could tell in OTAs when you tried to block or run routes against him.
 
VI: Did you expect to have this kind of success so early in your career as a fourth-round pick?
OD: I don’t know if I expected anything other than making the team, and I was fortunate to start as a rookie. I just work to improve and gain more confidence every year. There might have been a knock on my blocking, but now I think I’m a true every-down tight end.
 
VI: What do you like to do off the field?
OD: I’m pretty laid back. Because it tends to get really hot in Houston, I love playing golf with my teammates. On TV, I like to watch all those HBO comedies, like Entourage and Flight of the Conchords.
 
<i>This story appears in Feb. 17’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, <a href=http://www.sportingnewstoday.com/>sign up today</a>.</i>
 
<I>Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at <a href=mailto:viyer@sportingnews.com</a>viyer@sportingnews.com.</I>
 
Following a 2008 season in which he was named to the Pro Bowl, Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels had a terrific first half of ’09 before blowing out a knee. Daniels, a restricted free agent unless there is a new collective bargaining agreement in place before March 5, hopes the Texabs will build on their first winning season in ’10. He talked to Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer about Houston’s prolific passing game, his role in the offense and the budding superstar he faces every day in practice.
 

Owen Daniels on teammate WR Andre Johnson: "He's the best in the business."
Owen Daniels on teammate WR Andre Johnson: “He’s the best in the business.”

Vinnie Iyer: What are your impressions of Texans QB Matt Schaub, who led the league in passing this season?

Owen Daniels: He’s gotten better with every year. He’s now very comfortable three years into the system. The first two, he had a hard time staying healthy. He’s pushed himself, put in the hard work to become more durable. He’s great at studying his reads and being prepared with the game plan.
 
VI: How much does having All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson on your side make the job easier for the rest of you?
OD: He’s the best in the business. He draws so much attention on every play. Teams have to double-cover him and provide the help over the top. It leaves me with so many opportunities. Everyone else has a chance to get open, and when we’re that open it’s our job to make plays.
 
VI: Can you tell us more about the Texans’ other wide receivers: Kevin Walter, David Anderson and Jacoby Jones?
OD: Kevin, you can line up everywhere. He does much of the dirty work for us, blocking out there. David is a guy who just fits well in the slot, our version of Wes Welker. As for Jacoby, his back was kind of against the wall going after his first two seasons because he couldn’t hang on to football, but he’s worked so much on his hands so he could make so many big plays for us last year. He’s making his push to be a No. 2. Hopefully, we all will be back together this season.
 
VI: Knowing your team got so close to the playoffs, how frustrating was it to watch after you went down with your injury?
OD: It was tough. I was playing well individually, and the team was successful with a 5-3 start. It was hard to watch. I had never been in that situation of missing so many games before. So I just tried to help others, the tight ends working to take my place. When you miss time like that, it makes you appreciate your time on the field so much more. Now the knee is feeling good again, and I will be ready to go when it’s time to play.
 
VI: Texans owner Bob McNair just showed great confidence in coach Gary Kubiak, extending his contract. Do you think 2010 is when the team finally gets into the postseason?
OD: I sure hope so. I’m so happy Coach Kub and his staff got that extension. As players, we trust him as a leader. We’ve slowly battled to get to six wins, then eight wins, then 9-7. When we win, it’s been a wide margin, yet, we when lose, it’s been close. The teams that get into the playoffs win those close games. Absolutely, I would like to be back playing for coach Kubiak. I like the play-calling—that tight end is a big part of the offense.
 
VI: When you see what Colts All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark does up close twice a season, how does that affect your game?
OD: You can learn from watching him lining up as everything, such as slot receiver. I’ve learned a lot about running routes just watching guys such as Clark, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates on film.
 
VI: How good is Texans outside linebacker Brian Cushing?
OD: Right off the bat, once he cut his hair as a rookie, you could see how focused he was. He’s just so big, tough and physically gifted. You could tell in OTAs when you tried to block or run routes against him.
 
VI: Did you expect to have this kind of success so early in your career as a fourth-round pick?
OD: I don’t know if I expected anything other than making the team, and I was fortunate to start as a rookie. I just work to improve and gain more confidence every year. There might have been a knock on my blocking, but now I think I’m a true every-down tight end.
 
VI: What do you like to do off the field?
OD: I’m pretty laid back. Because it tends to get really hot in Houston, I love playing golf with my teammates. On TV, I like to watch all those HBO comedies, like Entourage and Flight of the Conchords.
 
<i>This story appears in Feb. 17’s edition of Sporting News Today. If you are not receiving Sporting News Today, the only daily digital sports newspaper, <a href=http://www.sportingnewstoday.com/>sign up today</a>.</i>
 
<I>Vinnie Iyer is a staff writer for Sporting News. Email him at <a href=mailto:viyer@sportingnews.com</a>viyer@sportingnews.com.</I>
 

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