Big Shoes for Dreesen

When the Texans play at Indianapolis on Sunday, one player who will be under the proverbial microscope will be tight end Joel Dreessen.

Dreessen has the unenviable assignment of replacing Pro Bowl tight end Owen Daniels, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Not only is Daniels one of the best players in the league at his position, but he's also one of the most popular Texans.

Dreessen, 27, has five catches for 52 yards. Daniels had 40 receptions for 519 yards and five touchdowns.

"I told Joel in front of the team that we're not going to try to replace everything O.D. did with one player," coach Gary Kubiak said. "We're going to replace him with everybody, so just get in there and do his job. We've got a lot of confidence in him."

Dreessen, 6-4, 248, is the Texans' deep snapper. He plays on every special team. Defensive end Jesse Nading was elevated from the practice squad to take Dreessen's place on special teams other than those that require snapping.

Rookie tight end Anthony Hill, 6-6, 269, will be active for the first time. He'll be the backup when they need an additional blocker. If they use three tight ends, which they did on occasion with Daniels, Dreessen and rookie James Casey (recovering from scope on knee), backup offensive tackle Rashad Butler will be the third tight end.

"We've still got plenty of guys to do what we do, but we're just not as deep," Kubiak said. "It's not going to change what we do."

Dreessen, who grew up in Iowa and played at Colorado State, was drafted in the sixth round by the Jets in 2005. He was waived in 2006 and spent that year out of football before signing with the Texans in 2007.

"I feel absolutely terrible for Owen's situation," Dreessen said. "He's as special an NFL player as there is. There's no replacing him, but at the same time, with injury comes opportunity, and I do think I can be very effective in this offense. I'm excited about it, mostly because we're 5-3, we've won three in a row, and we're going to play the Colts."

Dreessen's teammates have stepped up to express confidence in him replacing Daniels. Receiver David Anderson said Dreessen is so dedicated that he eats pages out of the playbook to make sure he's prepared for a game.

"David lived with me for two years, and I was always at the desk looking things over while he was playing video games," Dreessen said. "I definitely spend my fair share of time studying. I'm just one of those people that's pretty meticulous about knowing what I need to know."

How much Dreessen gets the ball is up to quarterback Matt Schaub.

"He's been playing extremely well," Schaub said. "He's a very dependable player. Owen was having a tremendous year and is an exceptional player, so it's tough to lose a guy like that, but we have confidence in what Joel can do. He's going to be in the right spot. He's going to run the right route. We have no worries that he's going to be on top of his responsibilities."

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