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2008 Rewind: Tight ends


Tight end Owen Daniels took his game to a new level in 2008, finishing the season with 70 receptions for 862 yards and averaging 12.3 yards per catch. The third-year pro ranked third among NFL tight ends in receiving yards and fifth in receptions. Among tight ends, only Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez and Dallas' Jason Witten racked up more receiving yards than Daniels.

{QUOTE}He proved why a tight end is a quarterback's best friend. Daniels consistently made tough catches over the middle to move the chains. In fact, almost 66 percent of his catches were for first downs.

Daniels also was the perfect inside complement to wide receiver Andre Johnson. The two combined to catch 185 passes for 2,437 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. Their reception and yardage totals were more than any other receiver-tight end duo in the league this season, including the Cowboy's Terrell Owens and Witten.

Looking back
Daniels' biggest games of the season came against opponents who focused their coverage on Johnson and gave up underneath routes. The tight end recorded 66 yards on six catches and scored two touchdowns against the Detroit Lions. He set career highs against the Minnesota Viking, coming up with 11 catches for 133 receiving yards. In the second 100-yard game of his career, he had seven catches for 111 yards at Oakland.

"My goal is to improve every year and to become more consistent every year," Daniels said. "I think I've done a good job of improving in that area. I've tried to work hard to become a complete tight end.

"I think catching passes and running routes comes naturally, but I wanted to really improve on run blocking and pass blocking and I think I've definitely taken steps toward being a good player in that area."

Rounding out the unit were third-year pro Joel Dreessen and 14-year pro Mark Bruener. Dreessen started three games with Daniels when the Texans played with a two-tight end set and finished the year with 11 catches for 77 yards. Bruener, who was considered a blocking tight end, was inactive for most of the season.

Looking forward

Daniels is a restricted free agent this offseason and has said he would like to remain in Houston, so re-signing him will be a huge priority for the Texans.

"I'll be a restricted free agent after this year and I'd love to be here for a long time," Daniels said. "That's not completely up to me, but I'd definitely love to stay in Houston. I really like our team, I like our coaches, I like the guys and I think we're going in the right direction."

The team could also look to retain tight end/long snapper Clark Harris, who was activated from the practice squad in early December. Coach Gary Kubiak has said that he would like to see what Harris can contribute on offense.

"I really think with a good offseason, he's someone who can help us also offensively," Kubiak said. "We've stayed away from that up to this point, but we'll pick that up in the offseason.

"He can play tight end. He's got some skills. He can run. So, we'll put that on his plate also."

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