2010 season in review: Tight end


Top performers: Owen Daniels (38 catches, 471 yards, 2 TDs), Joel Dreessen (36 catches, 518 yards, 4 TDs)

Newcomers:Garrett Graham (draft, fourth-round pick)

Major injuries: Daniels (hamstring, Weeks 9-13)

Position coach:Brian Pariani (20th NFL season, 5th with Texans)

Year in review: Daniels, Dreessen and James Casey combined for 82 catches, 1,087 yards and six touchdowns in 2010. The Texans' tight ends ranked fourth among all AFC teams in yards.

Daniels, coming off a season-ending knee injury in 2009, started 10 games and played in 11. He was on the Physically Unable to Perform List for the entire preseason but was ready for Week 1 of the regular season. He improved in each of the first six games until a hamstring injury sidelined him for five weeks.

When Daniels returned, he flashed the talent that made him a Pro Bowler in 2008. He had a season-high 91 yards on five catches against Baltimore in Week 14. He caught his first touchdown pass of the season and led the team with eight catches for 73 yards in Week 16 at Denver, and he closed the season with five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown against Jacksonville.

Dreessen posted career highs in catches, yards and touchdowns while playing in all 16 games for the third consecutive season. He had a career-high 106 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches in Week 11 against the Jets, his former team. He led the Texans with five catches for 73 yards in Week 4 at Oakland, and again with five catches for 66 yards in Week 9 against San Diego. He made a clutch 28-yard catch in overtime in Week 2 against Washington to set up the game-winning field goal.

Late in the season, Dreessen was voted by his teammates as the Texans' 2010 Ed Block Courage Award winner for overcoming offseason surgery on his right labrum and rotator-cuff.

Casey, in his second season out of Rice, was a sure-handed option when given an opportunity to catch the ball. He set career season highs with eight catches for 98 yards, which included career single-game highs of four catches for 48 yards against San Diego in Week 9.

Graham, a fourth-round pick from Wisconsin, saw action in six games as a rookie. The Wisconsin career leader with 16 touchdown catches, he played primarily on special teams in 2010.

Second-year tight end Anthony Hill was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform List on Nov. 30, but he was inactive in the final five games. Hill played in five games in 2009 and had one catch for nine yards.

Season highlight: Week 6 vs. Kansas City. Daniels had five catches for 79 yards in what was by far his best game since tearing his ACL at Buffalo on Nov. 1, 2009. Four of his catches went for first downs. He had three catches for 62 yards in the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter as the Texans overcame a 10-point deficit.

Dreessen had only one catch against the Chiefs, but it was a five-yard touchdown that put the Texans on the scoreboard in the second quarter.

Season lowlight: Week 10 at Jacksonville. Out of timeouts in a tied game, the Texans drove to the Jaguars' 40-yard line with 22 seconds left in the fourth quarter. From there, Dreessen was flagged for a false start. Then, on third-and-15 from the 45, Dreessen fumbled after an eight-yard catch over the middle. The Jaguars recovered with eight seconds left and, in a stunning turn of events, won the game two plays later on a 50-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired.

It was the first lost fumble of Dreessen's career. He was hard on himself after the game, going so far as to blame himself for the loss, but it didn't have a lingering effect on his play. Dreessen rebounded the next week with a career-high 106 receiving yards on the road against the Jets.

Notable number: 14.4 – Yards per catch for Dreessen in 2010, which led all Texans players and ranked 25th in the league. It ranked fifth among all NFL tight ends.

Key splits: Daniels was finally healthy late in the season after missing five games with a hamstring injury, and he had 22 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns in the final four games. Those numbers project to 88 catches, 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns over a 16-game span.

Dreessen had 11 catches, 140 yards and a touchdown when the Texans were trailing by 1-7 points. He averaged 19.0 yards per catch and had more than half of his total receiving yards (266) in the fourth quarter and overtime. He also was a first down-machine in third-and-short situations, with seven first downs on seven catches on third-and-10 or less.

Quotable:"Over the course of the past four weeks, he's shown he's fine, he's back and he'll be a Pro Bowl player. We need him on this football team. He is a hell of a player, he's a great kid, and we kind of go as he goes."
- Texans coach Gary Kubiak, after the Texans beat Jacksonville in the season finale, on Daniels

Looking ahead: Tight end will be one of the Texans' deepest positions in 2011. Daniels, who played on a one-year contract in 2010, re-signed with the Texans earlier this offseason to ensure that he'll be in Houston for years to come.

Dreessen, Casey, Graham and Hill also will return. Dreessen has become an ultra-dependable second option at tight end, while Casey is a versatile player who also can play fullback. Graham should be better in his second season, and Hill has potential as a big, blocking tight end.

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