Just like some of the other great passing offenses in the NFL, the Texans have a good group of tight ends. Owen Daniels was on pace for a second consecutive Pro Bowl season before he tore his ACL in week 8 against the Bills, ending his season. Joel Dreessen stepped in after Daniels went down and played exceptionally well, allowing the Texans to continue doing what they wanted in the passing game. Also on the team were rookies James Casey and Anthony Hill. Now, going into the 2010 season, the Texans have now added rookie Garrett Graham, and will look for a rejuvenated Owen Daniels. In part 4 of Toro Time’s position breakdowns, we dissect the tight ends. Cameron Butler is on vacation this week, so it will only be me on this one.
Owen Daniels (2009)
40 rec – 519 yards
13 avg – 5 TDs
Joel Dreessen (2009)
26 rec – 320 yards
12.3 avg – 1 TD
Going into 2009, Owen Daniels was widely considered to be a quickly rising star at tight end in the NFL. After having 70 receptions in 2008, Daniels looked to top that in 2009, having 39 receptions after only 7 weeks. Unfortunately, after his first catch at Buffalo in week 8, Daniels knee buckled and he went down with a torn ACL, ending his season. Now, just a couple weeks away from training camp, Daniels is completely healed, but may be held out of some drills to avoid re-injuring a tender knee. Although it may be possible that he could be held out of the practices all together. If he can even return at 80%, Daniels will be able to contribute as a big part of this offense, which relies heavily on his big catches to keep drives alive.
Looking up at Daniels is Joel Dreessen, who stepped in and played well in his absence. Both tight ends are primarily receiving ones, though they have both developed good blocking skills. Dreessen, who has become a bit more of an asset since last season, will likely go into the season as the number two at the position. He could get a little better a receiving in traffic, which is vital when being covered over the middle by linebackers.
Garrett Graham, a 4th round pick from Wisconsin, is essentially a clone of Owen Daniels, but far more raw. He may ultimately be the successor to Dreessen at the number two spot, and perhaps Daniels if something were to happen to his knee again. Graham will likely follow in Daniels’ footsteps, working a lot on his blocking and coverage recognition. He will probably not see the field very much until later in the season, but he should provide great long term depth at tight end for the Texans.
One rookie from last year, James Casey, will be working primarily for an increased role in 2010. After getting only 6 receptions last season, Casey, almost completely the receiving type, will need to continue to work on his blocking if he wishes to see the field more. Now he’ll have another another young tight end, Garrett Graham, to compete with. With this addition, I think that it’s unlikely that Casey will ever server a huge role for the Texans outside being a rotating backup and special teams player.
Finally, we reach Anthony Hill, yet another rookie from 2009. He was held back by multiple injuries last season, only playing in 5 games and getting 1 reception. Anthony Hill is primarily considered a blocking tight end, but can also go out and catch some passes. But don’t expect anything spectacular, as he’ll only be catching passes if left open. A few weeks ago, it was reported that Hill might miss training camp due to injuries, and the Texans have signed Michael Gaines to help compensate. I don’t see either one of these two making the final roster, and I expect Hill to eventually make his way to the practice squad.