Owen Daniels, a 2008 Pro Bowler, had a team-high 54 catches and 677 receiving yards in his sixth NFL season in 2011.
After missing eight games in 2009 with a season-ending knee injury and five games in 2010 with a hamstring injury, Daniels was fully healthy last season and started 15 regular-season games. He ranked sixth among AFC tight ends in yards and catches and second with 75.9 percent of his catches going for first downs.
"He looks good," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said during OTAs (organized team activities (OTAs). "This is seven years; O.D.'s been with me from the start. I expect O.D. to have a big year, but we're a balanced offense that spreads the ball. I don't know who's going to get it. Somebody's going to get it, and believe me, he'll get many chances. With that being said, I'm sure he'll have a hell of a year."
Starting fullback James Casey enters training camp as the Texans' second tight end. He had 18 catches for 260 yards and a touchdown last season in a hybrid role. In his fourth season out of Rice, Casey will help account for the loss of Joel Dreessen, a stout blocker who led the Texans with six touchdown catches in 2011. Dreessen signed with the Denver Broncos this offseason after five seasons in Houston.
Garrett Graham, a 2010 fourth-round pick out of Wisconsin, also will have a chance for more playing time in 2012. Graham has appeared in 13 career games and has one catch for 24 yards.
The Texans also have two undrafted rookie tight ends, Phillip Supernaw (Ouachita Baptist) and Logan Brock (Texas Christian). Kubiak indicated at the end of OTAs that they could sign another veteran at the position to help replace Dreessen.
"We've normally had a physical tight end around here to go with O.D.," Kubiak said. "We don't have that presence right now. That's something (general manager) Rick (Smith) and I are looking at."