Owen Daniels Returning to Form
And while it may have taken longer than the former Pro Bowl tight end may have hoped to reach that point, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said that was the plan all along -- and a reason Daniels was held out so long at one point this season.
Daniels, who missed the last half of last season an torn anterior cruciate ligament, returned this season, but had not approached his previous production until the last two weeks.
During that span, he has caught nine passes for 136 yards.
"He's back," Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com quoted Kubiak saying.
Daniels had missed five consecutive games with a hamstring injury, but has played the last two weeks, catching five passes for 91 yards in a loss to Baltimore and four passes for 45 yards in a loss to Tennessee this past week. It was Daniels' best two-game stretch of the season.
"He was mad at me for about five or six weeks when we went through that situation when we sat him," Kubiak said. "I thought it was best for his career moving forward. So he's got a smile back on his face. He's played like Owen Daniels these last two weeks.
"He'll be back, and he'll be an All-Pro. I've been very impressed with the job the training staff has done with him. It's been hard on him, but we did the right thing by him and he'll benefit from it."
Also on Thursday, linebacker Brian Cushing (foot) returned to practice Thursday and wide receiver Andre Johnson (right ankle) missed practice a second consecutive day.
Kubiak said he expects Johnson, who needs 284 yards receiving in the final two games of the season to become the first player in NFL history with 1,500 yards receiving three consecutive seasons, may be a game-time decision.
"Seven or eight weeks ago, I didn't think there was a chance in hell in where he was with his foot and the time he had missed," Kubiak said of Johnson reaching the milestone. "Yet he continued to play well and have big days. It would mean a great deal, but at the same time, we've got to be smart in what we're doing with him.
"So I'll strictly listen to him, but it has been on our mind."
Said Johnson, "I'd rather be playing to go to the playoffs, having something like that happen, than to be worried about getting to 1,500 yards. But of course you would love for it to happen."
Kubiak also said Pro Bowl defensive end Mario Williams on Tuesday underwent sports hernia surgery. He was placed on injured reserve last week.
"He's not feeling very good and has got a long road back," Kubiak said, adding, "It was done, and to my understanding, done well and successfully."