Owen Daniels Wants To Prove Texans Wrong

Owen Daniels doesn't have his termination letter from the Houston Texans posted in his locker like Steve Smith Sr. does with his note from the Panthers.

The tight end has it somewhere at home, but he can picture it in his mind's eye.

"They give us a release sheet and it has all the check marks," Daniels said. "'Why did you get released?  You weren't good enough.' Basically [that's] what it says."

Daniels was released by the Texans on March 11 after eight years and two Pro Bowls in red, white and blue. He signed with the Ravens less than a month later.

The Texans were essentially betting on Daniels being over the hill, his best days behind him. He turned 32 years old this season and was coming off a broken leg that sent him to injured reserve last season. 

Daniels looks rejuvenated, however. He's been a huge part of Baltimore's offense, and will now get his shot at redemption this Sunday when he travels back to Houston.

"Obviously, when you work somewhere for so long and then they say you're not good enough to play there anymore and you get a chance to play them that following season, you definitely want to prove to them that they made a mistake," Daniels said.

"It will be cool going back there and hopefully I'll get a chance to make some plays."

In training camp, it looked as if the Texans may have been right about Daniels. He sat out a couple weeks of practice and three preseason games because of leg fatigue, something rarely heard of, especially early in the season.

But once the regular season began, Daniels has proven himself to be a reliable target and valuable addition.

After scoring a pair of touchdowns against the rival Steelers in Week 2, Daniels was thrust into the No. 1 tight end role when Dennis Pitta re-fractured and dislocated his hip in Week 3. Daniels was supposed to be Pitta's complimentary piece, not the main course.

Daniels hasn't flinched in a similar role to what he had in Houston. His 45 receptions are second-most on the team behind Smith and he's posted 474 yards and four touchdowns. It's not quite on pace with his 2008 and 2012 Pro Bowl seasons, but he's been solid.

Head Coach John Harbaugh was watching tape of the Texans this week and couldn't help but notice that Daniels actually looks spryer this year than last, as if he's defying age.

That's despite – or perhaps because of – Daniels having a minor "cleanup" knee procedure, which knocked him out for just one game in Week 8 against Cincinnati.

"I'm just amazed with how well he's done, as far as getting himself ready to play coming off the injury from last year – how fresh and young and how well he's running, how well he's doing," Harbaugh said. "He's just doing a great job for us."

Last Sunday, Daniels hauled in four passes for 62 yards, including a 29-yard grab on a double move that mixed up a Jaguars safety. Daniels said he didn't even see quarterback Joe Flacco for most of the play, but still made the diving snag.

On the next play, Daniels faked a block and snuck inside a Jaguars linebacker to find himself wide-open for a 3-yard touchdown.

"I'd like to get him even more involved, more catches," Flacco said. "We had some opportunities in the game Sunday to make more plays, and we were just a little off. Each week's getting better and better, but I want to get him involved because I think he's a good player and he makes us go when we get him involved."

Daniels said going back to Houston – where he still has permanent residence – is "going to be weird." He'll be staying in a different hotel and walking out of a different tunnel. He's excited to see some of his former teammates.

He said that he has "no ill will" towards his former employer (other than wanting to prove it wrong).

"That organization gave me a chance to play in the NFL for the first time and I can't be more thankful to Mr. McNair and that organization for giving me that opportunity," Daniels said. "They had to do what they had to do business-wise last year and I'm still trying to be the best player I can be here."

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