Houston Texans Tight Ends Look Poised to Have Big Year
The Houston Texans had the top offense in the NFL during the preseason. Among the aspects of the offense that stood out was the play of the tight ends. The tight end trio of Owen Daniels, Garrett Graham and rookie sixth-round draft choice Ryan Griffin will be one of the top tight end groups in the league in 2013. They are a versatile group, and as much as the Texans offense uses multiple tight end sets, they will make plenty of plays.
The veteran Daniels is coming off of a season in which he was the Texans second-leading receiver in both receptions and yards behind Andre Johnson. He finished with 62 receptions for 716 yards. He led the team in receiving touchdowns with six and made his second Pro Bowl. Daniels is adept at getting open at all levels of the defense. The lone surviving member of the Houston 2006 draft class that was the first Texans draft presided over by coach Gary Kubiak and GM Rick Smith, Daniels has shown no signs of slowing down entering his eighth season.
Graham, who like Daniels is also out of the University of Wisconsin, is entering his fourth season. After playing sparingly his first two seasons, Graham stepped in last year as the No. 2 tight end following the departure of Joel Dreesen. He posted 28 receptions for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The Texans used the most two-tight end sets in the league last season, and Graham started both playoff games alongside Daniels.
He made the biggest catch of his career, and possibly the season for the Texans, in the 19-13 wildcard playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals. Graham went up high to snag a third-down play-action pass from Matt Schaub late in the fourth quarter. The conversion clinched the win for Houston, allowing them to run out the clock and advance. Look for Graham to be even more involved in the offense this season.
The rookie Griffin was selected by the Texans in the sixth round of the draft out of the University of Connecticut. He is a big target, and the biggest of the trio at 6-foot-6, 254 pounds. Griffin received plenty of snaps during the preseason, and showed that he has the ability to contribute in the offense this season. He led the Texans in receiving with 14 catches and 173 yards. His quick acclimation to the offense has given the Texans superior depth at the tight-end position that can be matched by few other teams.