In a game in which the Texans said they had to fight for yards and keep it balanced, their tight ends played an important part. In their 19-13 wild card win over Cincinnati last Saturday, Owen Daniels pulled in a team-high nine catches for 91 yards, his best statistical performance of the season. Garrett Graham added three catches for 29 yards.
But a scary moments for both in that game. Daniels left briefly in the third quarter after suffering a stinger to his left shoulder. Late in the game, Graham was hit hard in the helmet by Cincinnati linebacker Vontaze Burfict. He was limited in practice this week after suffering a concussion for the second time this season. Graham also suffered one on Dec. 2 at Tennessee and had to miss the next game at New England, which the Texans lost 42-14.
However, after passing the last of his concussion tests Friday morning, Graham will be able to play this time around vs. the Patriots.
“It’s very big, because we use those guys so much and we’ve went all year really with two tight ends and been very fortunate as a team,” head coach Gary Kubiak said. “We’ve missed him a couple of times during the season and obviously it affects us. Some of the things. It’s good to have him back. He makes a lot of plays. He made a lot of plays last week, so we’re counting on him again.”
“Very important,” Daniels said. “He is a big part of what we do and we missed him last time we were up there. Hopefully he can add a bit to what we’re doing and hopefully he’ll get the chance to make some plays. Definitely being able to have us both around and (FB) James (Casey) in there as well is a big part of what we do.”
Schaub is of course relieved to have his tight end combo intact for the big matchup.
“They’re such big weapons for us,” Schaub said. “They create a lot of mismatches. They run great routes. They’re very precise, great hands with the football. They create separation at the moment of truth. Having them both on the field at the same time, because they’re so good on the line of scrimmage blocking, as well, they allow us to do a lot as far as formations and what we can do with them.”
“They’re always big,” Kubiak added. “That gives us our versatility as an offensive football team. We’ve got both of those guys so they were big in the game last week. They’ll be important this week. I think the biggest thing is everybody’s got to make plays for us. We’ve got to spread the ball around. You can’t go in one place against this group. They can find a way to take somebody away so everybody is going to have to do their part. We’re going to have to be aggressive. We’re going to have some young guys make some plays also.”
The Texans and Patriots are the last divisional playoff game of the weekend with kickoff on Sunday at 3:30 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.