Daniels' presence helps Johnson

HOUSTON -- Texans tight end Owen Daniels is getting closer to a potential return.

The Texans placed him on injured reserve Oct. 9 with the designation to return after he suffered a non-displaced fracture to his fibula. The first game in which he'd be eligible to play is the Texans' Thursday night game against the Jaguars on Dec. 5.

"When he initially started working out, had a little soreness, but he is doing better," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "He did work pretty hard today. If he can come back or actually get on the practice field, would it be this week? I'm not sure, but he's real close. We'll see how things work out but he has improved over the course of the last week."

When they lost him, the Texans' losing streak was only at three games. It's now nine, and Daniels' absence hasn't helped.

With a potential return approaching, I wanted to examine exactly what he meant to the Texans' offense. John Parolin of ESPN Stats & Info looked up Matt Schaub's stats with and without Daniels on the field since 2009, when that sort of data started being collected. We went with just Schaub since Case Keenum and Daniels haven't played together.

Schaub's numbers were similar with and without Daniels, as were the Texans' overall yards per play and yards per rush.

So I asked Parolin to check out Andre Johnson's stats in those same games. Johnson averaged 81.7 yards per game with Schaub and Daniels, but just 44.4 yards per game with Schaub but without Daniels since 2009.

Without Daniels, the Texans' formations have changed significantly as well. In the five weeks with a healthy Daniels, the Texans led the NFL in snaps with two or more tight ends. Since losing him, they've used the formation much less, dropping to 27th.