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O.D. likes what Texans offer in '09

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Owen Daniels' offseason has not been short on activity.

The tight end enjoyed his first Pro Bowl appearance with defensive end Mario Williams and wide receiver Andre Johnson and became the first Texan to make a touchdown catch in the All-Star game.

Daniels returned from Hawaii and entered free agency as a restricted free agent. The Texans immediately extended him the maximum qualifying offer, meaning teams willing to sign Daniels to an offer sheet would have to give up first- and third-round draft picks if the Texans did't match their offer. Those terms virtually assured the Texans that Daniels would remain in Houston, which came as little surprise to the third-year pro.

"I was expecting something to happen," Daniels said. "I just wasn't exactly sure what would happen. To get the highest tender possible showed my worth to the team. I think it's going to be tough for a team to come in and give up those picks for me. Hopefully, the Texans and I can come to an agreement, and I can sign a deal to be here for a while."

{QUOTE}In the meantime, Daniels is training under strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright's newly installed program in order to prepare for offseason workouts, which begin on April 6.

"Every year, I try to get as much rest as I possibly can," Daniels said. "It's a long season, so I like to heal up the nicks and bruises and just try to get fresh in the offseason. I like to give myself four or five weeks before we actually start up as a team. I'm here now, trying to have a little base for the offseason program."

If Daniels enters next season stronger and faster than he was in 2008, he should establish himself as one of the elite tight ends in the league. Last season, he ranked second in the AFC among tight ends in receiving yards (862) and first downs (46). Daniels also ranked in the top five among AFC tight ends in receptions (third, 70) and receiving yards per game (third, 53.9).

His play helped the Texans finish third in the league in offense last year with 382.1 ypg. Thus far, it appear as if Daniels and the rest of Houston's offensive starters will return to the lineup in 2009. In fact, the Texans entered the offseason with very few needs on offense, and they filled one by signing quarterback Dan Orlovsky to back up Matt Schaub.

"I'm excited about having him (Orlovsky) here," Daniels said. "I haven't had a chance to meet him or talk to him, but I think he's a very good player. He played with one of my old teammates (Brian Calhoun) from Wisconsin in Detroit, and he told me some good things about him."

The Texans still are in the market for a running back to back up Steve Slaton, but they most likely will turn to the draft to fill that void, as well as fortify their defense.

"I don't know about any of the running backs coming out," Daniels said. "I've heard a lot about the good defensive ends, some good linebackers. I don't know what direction we'll be leaning toward. I think we'll probably get some good defensive guys. I just want some good players to come in here and work and contribute to our team."

Many media pundits believe that the Texans could be next year's Arizona Cardinals, if they are able to add those key components, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Daniels agrees.

"When you have a lot of teams that are like the Cardinals and go 9-7 and are a drive away from winning the Super Bowl, it gives a lot of teams hope," Daniels said. "If we can just get into the playoffs, anything can happen. Our goal is just to get into the playoffs, get into the postseason and see what we can do from there."

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