HOUSTON (AP) -Since Andre Johnson went out with an injury in the second game, the Houston Texans have relied on several receivers to pick up the slack.
Each week a new leader has emerged. The latest is tight end Owen Daniels whose breakout game in Sunday's 22-19 win over Miami in which he had 96 yards receiving. FIve of his six receptions went for first downs including catches of 19 and 14 yards on Houston's winning drive.
``He has a lot of confidence right now,'' coach Gary Kubiak said. ``In the game the other day, he told me: 'Give me the ball.' He's never said that to me. He makes two big plays in the last drive and has a lot of confidence. He's becoming a pretty darn good player.''
Daniels, who is in his second season, was named Houston's offensive player of the game for his performance. His team-leading totals of 24 catches and 293 yards are just 10 catches and 59 yards shy of his rookie totals.
He said he was happy to be able to step in with Johnson injured, but didn't imagine he'd lead the team in receiving.
``It's not something I expected and once Dre comes back I don't expect it to last that long,'' he said. ``But whenever I get a chance to make a play, I'm going to take advantage of that.''
Along with Johnson, who made the Pro Bowl last season, the Texans are missing Jacoby Jones and Jerome Mathis with injuries. Andre' Davis, a fill-in along with Daniels, had 117 yards receiving two games ago and 79 yards against Miami.
Johnson, who has missed three games with a knee sprain, said he knew his teammates could succeed with him sitting out.
``Everything that has happened hasn't surprised me,'' he said. ``I've known all these guys can go out and make plays. I used to tell Owen he's like the big secret. No one really mentions him, but in my book he's a heck of a player and I'll take him out on the field any time.''
Daniels, who was a quarterback early in his college career, was a favorite of former quarterback David Carr and is quickly developing a similar relationship with Matt Schaub.
``He has a good feel for route running and zone coverages so he can get open and he finishes plays,'' Schaub said. ``He catches the football and he makes something happen with it afterward. He presents a big target for us and he opens up a lot of things and we can get him the ball down the middle of the field.''
Daniels said a year of experience has helped him be more comfortable and confident. He's striving for consistency this season after his production tapered off late last year.
``I had a pretty productive first half of last year and then ... I just didn't put up the numbers I did the first half,'' he said. ``You can't just be an every-other-day guy or every-other-week guy if you want to be a big-time player in this league.''

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