Costly Victory for Texans

Owen Daniels (Getty Images)

The Texans didn't do a lot of celebrating after their 31-10 victory over Buffalo because tight end Owen Daniels, one of their best and most popular players, was on crutches.

Daniels, who made the Pro Bowl last season, caught two early passes against Buffalo. On the second series, running a route that wasn't supposed to get him the ball, he planted his foot, cut and heard something pop - the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Daniels, off to the best start of his four-year career with 40 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns, is expected to undergo season-ending surgery at some point. He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Joel Dreessen, who has five catches for 52 yards.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan likes to run some three tight end formations. That means two rookies, fifth-round pick James Casey and fourth-round pick Anthony Hill, will move up a spot.

When Daniels left the Buffalo game, Casey moved up a spot and made the first two catches of his career, but they were good for only 14 yards. Casey is also the backup fullback behind Vonta Leach. Because of his additional responsibility as the backup tight end, his practice time might be nothing but tight end.

Hill, 6-feet-6 and 269 pounds, is primarily a blocker. He's been inactive each game. He missed one game because he was suffering from swine flu.

The tight end figures prominently in Shanahan's offense. Daniels is an outstanding receiver who has improved as a blocker. He and Andre Johnson caught more passes than any wide receiver/tight end combination in the league last season.

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