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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Texans game.
Browns defensive backs and linebackers vs. Texans TEs Owen Daniels and Joel Dreessen and FB James Casey
As noted in Tuesday's Browns-Texans matchup, the Texans possess a strong running game. This helps their play-action passing game, which is one of the league's best and a staple of Gary Kubiak's offense. QB Matt Schaub is a precise passer who can chip away at a defense with safe-but-effective short throws, and he can stretch the field effectively, too.
Houston has deployed its tight ends and running backs with success in the passing game during Kubiak's tenure as head coach.
Daniels (31 catches, 415 yards, three TDs) is one of Schaub's top targets. Though he has had a history of knee injuries, Daniels nonetheless remains capable of getting open consistently. He's the top playmaker of Houston's tight ends and has the speed to cause problems for Cleveland's linebackers and safeties.
Dreessen (12-206-3) also can be a challenging cover. In Houston's Week Eight victory over Jacksonville, he made an impressive play hauling in a seven-yard TD from Schaub. Dreessen ran a very good route, running toward Jaguars S Dwight Lowery, then making a sharp cut into the middle of the field. Then, Dreessen made a leaping, contested catch, snagging the ball away from Lowery, who recovered quickly and had a chance to break up the play on a throw without much pace, in the endzone.
Casey (9-163-1) is the first-string fullback, but he has vast experience at tight end, can be used like one and is a receiving threat in his own right. His unique skill set makes him someone opposing defenses can't overlook. He had 111 catches in his final season at Rice in 2008.
Considering Houston's balance on offense and its wealth of pass-catching options at tight end and fullback, Cleveland's linebackers and defensive backs will be put to the test on Sunday. The Texans have the ability to keep defenses off-balance, and Daniels, Dreessen and Casey play a material role in that regard.