Tight end Joel Dreessen takes over for the injured Owen Daniels, and his teammates say he's prepared.
When asked about tight end Joel Dreessen, two teammates who know him from their college days at Colorado State quickly described his penchant for preparation.
"Joel's kind of a freak," defensive end Jesse Nading said. "He's a guy that leaves no stone unturned."
Receiver David Anderson took it a step further.
"He studies his playbook harder than anyone I've ever seen," Andeson said. "I lived with him. He basically ingests it. He tries to crumple the pages and swallow it, so he knows."
Dreessen's preparedness knows no bounds. Anderson's comments are dovetailed by quarterback Matt Schaub's take on the new starter at tight end.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he does eat pages from the playbook," Schaub said. "He's a studier, he's a worker, he really is on top of every assignment. If it's in the book and he's being told to do it a certain way, he's going to do it exactly that way."
Dreessen's grand opportunity is now upon him because of Owen Daniels' season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury. The four-year pro is disappointed for Daniels but embraces the chance in front of him Sunday against the Colts.
"It's always encouraging to have an opportunity," Dreessen said. "I'm very excited about it. I'm excited because I've been a backup guy, I've been a special teams guy thus far in my career, and I'm looking forward to making the most of it."
Dreessen hasn't gotten by simply because he knows the playbook so well. There's a degree of athleticism and sure-handedness that have thrust him into his current spot.
"Joel can play, there's a reason he's in the NFL," Nading said. "Owen's obviously a special player, but they wouldn't hand the keys to Joel now if they didn't believe in him. Joel can make all the catches, run all the routes, so I'm excited to see what Joel can do."
"Joel was born ready," he said. "He's eager for the opportunity to show that he's a pass-catching tight end as well."
Schaub, who's connected with Dreessen five times for 52 yards this season, is extremely confident that the new starter will produce, and produce immediately.
"I think he's just going to do tremendously well," Schaub said.
Those are pretty high expectations for a player who missed all of 2006 after getting cut at the end of the preseason by the Jets.
"I spent the whole year out of football," Dreessen said. "I didn't have any practice squad eligibility, so I was running around every Monday and Tuesday going to workouts with different ball clubs. They'd all tell me the same thing: 'We can't believe you're not on a team,' and 'If we have an opening here we'll sign you.' It just never happened.
"As cliché as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. I ended up being here in Houston, and it's been a blessing ever since."
Dreessen has made his mark with the Texans this season as a deep snapper on kicks and punts and as a quality backup tight end. He may be short on experience as a full-timer in the offense, but head coach Gary Kubiak knows that Dreessen's contribution Sunday will be important.
"I told him in front of the team this morning, we're not going to try to replace everything O.D. (Daniels) did with one player," Kubiak said. "We're going to replace him with everybody. So just get in there and do his job. We've got a lot of confidence in him, and I know he will."