Now that Owen Daniels is staying with the Texans he can continue to work on his dream. On the field that means trying to win a Super Bowl. Off the field it means trying to make a difference.
Daniels, who signed a four-year, $22 million contract extension Thursday, runs the Owen Daniels' Catching Dreams Foundation. The mission of the foundation, which was started in Houston in 2010, is to provide opportunities, support and resources to children and families in need.
His latest project, Owen's Locker, is designed to enrich the lives of chronically and critically ill children by providing them and their families access to a variety of electronics and games to help pass time during treatment and recovery. He has set up this program at the Texas Children's Hospital with the goal of expanding to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital later this year and Houston Shriners in 2012.
"Anything we can do to help out," Daniels said in a recent phone interview with CBSSports.com.
It was important for Daniels to stay in Houston to continue his charity work, and he also wants to help the Texans succeed. Daniels was drafted by the Texans in 2006, and he feels the team is on the verge of becoming a legitimate playoff contender.
When Gary Kubiak was retained as the head coach for 2011, Daniels knew he wanted to return, and the Texans rewarded him with a contract extension.
"I've grown to love the city," Daniels said. "A big reason is coach Kubiak. I like the way he works."
Kubiak is a big fan of Daniels – and so are Fantasy owners. He got off to a good start in his first three seasons when he was a marginal Fantasy starter before having a breakout year in 2009.
In his first eight games of that season, Daniels had 40 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns. He was the best Fantasy tight end at that point of the year, but then he suffered a torn ACL and was out for the season.
When last year started, Daniels was ready for a full recovery, but he suffered a setback in training camp when he injured his kneecap. Once his knee got healthy, he dealt with a hamstring injury that cost him five games.
He said last year was "extremely frustrating," but at least he ended it on a high note. He finished the season strong with 22 catches for 271 yards and two touchdowns in his last four games. For the season, Daniels finished with 38 catches for 471 yards and the two scores.
"I'm just thankful to finish the season healthy and to be making progress toward where I was before," Daniels said. "There's peaks and valleys with everything. I'm just hoping to get back to the peak."
Kubiak said during the final four games of last season that Daniels was playing at a Pro Bowl level, so that gives him encouragement to start this year. He doesn't have any problems with his knee or hamstring and is looking forward to a full offseason or training as opposed to going through rehab.
Kubiak said Friday that he's counting on Daniels to succeed. He should resume his role as the No. 2 receiving threat behind wide receiver Andre Johnson. We consider Daniels a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, and he's worth drafting with a mid-round pick in all leagues. We expect him to return to his form of 2009.
"If you look at his numbers from two years ago, it looked like he was going to be a 1,000-yard receiver at tight end," Kubiak said. "Those guys don't come along very often. If you look at what he did last year on a limited basis, if he plays the whole season, he'd have done it again. Those guys are hard to find like that. Owen, like I said, is a team guy and gives us a lot of versatility as an offensive football team. I just like what he stands for."
Everyone should like what Daniels stands for. He is a quality player on the field and a star off it for his charity work. He's the kind of player we all like to root for.