Owen Daniels – The hard feelings from last offseason seem to have tapered off a bit in 2010, which is a huge relief to all of us. Neither the team nor Owen has come out and said that they have a deal in place to be signed once Owen proves he is 100% back from his injury last year, but you get the feeling that’s kind of what is in the works. That said, there are whispers about how the drafting of the Daniels-esque TE Garrett Graham could be an insurance move in case the Texans aren’t able to work out a deal With OD – or if he isn’t able to recover from his injury.
Joel Dreessen – Dreessen is a solid backup to Daniels, and proved himself even more valuable last offseason by becoming the team’s long snapper. He’s coming off of shoulder surgery, but once he’s healthy he seems to be the clear #2 tight end. He proved himself worthy of that title last year, but there might be one guy ready to do anything it takes to move up the depth chart, and his name is…
James Casey – THOR!!! is still the same athletic freak he was last year, and it’s hard to believe that the Texans won’t find a way to get him more involved in 2010. Casey may also continue to work as yet another long-snapper, and the Texans will most certainly get him snaps at TE. I don’t see him doing any additional FB work unless there’s an injury issue. With all the injury uncertainty at the TE position right now, the Texans are throwing numbers at the problem, but Casey has a bright future with this team. I just have no idea how far away that future is…
Anthony Hill – I defended the Hill pick last year because the team was in dire need of a blocking tight end. It filled a specific need for the team, and Hill was set to make a difference. Then… he made no difference at all. With the names ahead of him, and the new guy from the 2010 draft ready to make an impact – I honestly think Hill’s roster spot is in serious jeopardy. He couldn’t stay healthy last year and from what I can gather, he wasn’t effective when he WAS healthy. The team has too much talent at this position to carry dead weight on the roster. The thing that could save Hill is that his skill set is very specific to a blocking TE, where the rest of the TEs are pass-catchers first (with the exception of Gaines, who the team just recently signed).
Michael Gaines – Gaines is journeyman, and almost entirely just a blocking TE. Hopefully he will help push Hill to become the guy the Texans thought he could be. I don’t expect Gaines has a shot to make the team unless they feel like Hill can be judged a total bust already.
Garrett Graham – The talk about Graham is that his game is similar in almost every fashion to Owen Daniels – his height and weight are nearly exactly identical, they are both great in the clutch, both went to Wisconsin, both picked in the 4th round, etc. Of course, Owen has played at a Pro Bowl level in the NFL, and if Graham turns out to be half as good, he will be a solid pick. He has a chance to do some damage this summer with all the injuries to players in front of him.
What I expect
I do think Owen Daniels will return to form. He’s got the work ethic, and unfortunately, previous experience dealing with this same injury. Of course, who knows how long he can stay healthy. After three ACL tears, you have to worry about the future and as popular as he is amongst the fanbase, you can’t blame Rick Smith for not wanting to throw a truck of money at him. Daniels will of course remain the #1, but I do think James Casey will gain ground on Joel Dreessen for that #2 spot. I hope the team finds a way to maximize Casey’s talent as a pass-catcher, even if they have to force it a little bit. Anthony Hill needs to show me something. Anything. So far, I see nothing. Garrett Graham could surprise some people. I think there might be at least one surprising cut out of this group.
Vonta Leach – “Coke Machine” or “The Hurt Locker” as I like to call him, Vonta’s not going anywhere. He’s a brutally-bruising blocker and might be the only non-OLineman on our offense who has a bona fide snorting nostril mean streak. Love the player, love the attitude. I thought he had a near-dominant year in 2008 (got robbed of a Pro Bowl spot) before dropping off a bit last year. If he can work on his pass-catching ability, he could be more of a factor than he already is.
*Isaiah Greenhouse – I don’t know anything about Greenhouse, and I can’t find much on him. He went to the Southland Conference’s Northwestern State in Louisiana. NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com each have him ranked 22nd in their 2010 FB prospects.
*Jack Corcoran – Another guy that I know very little about. My esteemed colleague Rivers McCown gave Corcoran some Twitter love, assuring me that he’s a good blocker and pass-catcher. Good enough for me, Rivers… but I want to make it clear that it is RIVERS MCCOWN OF BATTLEREDBLOG.COM AND FROMMOMSBASEMENT.COM who said that Vonta Leach should watch his back. Me? I have a Vonta Leach blanket and Vonta Leach Underoos, plus a custom #44 “Hurt Locker” jersey… and um, I paid a guy to make a custom McFarlane Vonta Leach NFL action figure. So, Vonta and I are tight, and Rivers is mean.
What I expect
Vonta has a stranglehold on the top spot, if you ask me – but if Corcoran is what Rivers says he is, he is a legit candidate for the practice squad. Gary Kubiak was concerned with how Vonta took so many practice snaps at FB last season. The coach made it clear the Leach performed better once the team got some extra bodies in at the FB position in the weeks between games. We definitely don’t want Vonta to have that “not so fresh feeling” on Sundays next year.
*Denotes a reported Undrafted Free Agent signing. These players are only reported to have signed with the Texans but as of this entry none of the signings have been confirmed by the team.