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After holding out for part of voluntary OTAs last offseason because of his frustration with the lack of what he considered a serious long-term contract offer from the team, TE Owen Daniels told PFW talks appear to be moving in the right direction with the Texans and he's hoping to avoid skipping practices this year.
The lack of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement kept Daniels from becoming an unrestricted free agent, and the Texans placed the highest possible restricted tender on him, meaning a team would have to give up both a first-round pick and a third-rounder if they signed him to an offer sheet and the Texans opted not to match the offer.
"The Texans did a good job of protecting themselves," Daniels said. "It was a good sign that they put that max tender on me. It shows that they want me around. If they didn't care about losing me or potentially wanted to trade me I think they would've tendered me at a lower amount. I think that's a positive thing for sure.
"If they would've put that lower tender on me, I would've been really confused. It would have been clear at that point that they weren't tied to me and didn't need me around. It makes me feel important that they need me in this offense. That's the way I looked at it. I wasn't trying to find any negatives in it."
Daniels, who said his rehab from a torn ACL is going well, doesn't expect any team to send him an offer sheet. In addition, he said his agent, Alan Herman, and Texans GM Rick Smith apparently had positive discussions about a long-term deal at the Combine last month and have decided to put the contract talks that went sour last year out of mind.
"(The Texans) do want to get a deal done," Daniels said. "I don't think they necessarily want to wait until next offseason (to do it). … As long as I can show them that I'm healthy and ready to go, I think they know what I can do. I don't think I necessarily have to prove that I can play football anymore. I think I just have to prove I can get back out there. Hopefully we can get something done before the season, but I understand if they need to see me play some games before we do something."
He will likely sign his one-year tender this summer and hope the groundwork is laid for him to sign a long-term deal early next season. With the threat of a lockout looming in 2011, however, some NFL teams are trying to avoid committing money to players beyond 2010. While Daniels said he would strongly prefer not to hold out this summer, he isn't completely ruling it out.
"I guess anything's a possibility, but I really don't want to do that," he said. "I really, really don't want to do that. I want to be there with the guys. I don't want to sit out when everyone else is doing their thing. "… I'm sure there are a lot of people that have considered not showing up or making a fuss about it, but I don't want to be the guy to do that if it's not necessary. It would have to be an extreme, extreme situation for me not to show up.
"If things got completely unreasonable, but even then I might just be like, 'Well, I'll go to work anyway and I'll do my thing and hopefully that will show them that I'm serious.' It's weird talking about 'Will you hold out, will you not hold out?' I definitely don't want to. You can just never say never."
Daniels was on pace to set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns last season before he tore his ACL in Week Eight vs. Buffalo. He has sustained a torn ACL three times since high school, but he said this has been the smoothest recovery of the three.
"It's the third ACL (tear) that I've had in my life, so I kind of know the ropes a little bit, so that's helped out," he said. "I'm four months out of surgery now. I've been ahead of schedule. (The trainers) have been trying to hold me back a little bit because we don't have to rush. We don't have huge time constraints. I should be full-go by the middle of summer — probably in May or June.
"I definitely have no doubt that I'll be back and, if not better, just as strong."
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