Daniels, Walters lead Texans passing attack

HOUSTON As defenses increasingly try to take Johnson out of games, Kevin Walter and Owen Daniels have emerged to get the Texans' passing game on track.

Walter has scored three touchdowns this season and Daniels, a tight end, leads the team with 191 yards receiving. His 63.7 yards a game are the most by a tight end in the AFC and he's averaging 13.6 yards a catch.

Johnson had 10 receptions for 112 yards in the opener, but has had five receptions for 67 yards since then. Daniels had seven receptions for 87 yards in last week's overtime loss to the Jaguars and Walter had eight for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

"Andre is a great player for us, but he's not our only option out there," said Daniels, who's in his third season. "If they want to try to take him away or cheat to him with a safety then that leaves other people open."

The big day by the pair helped the previously struggling Matt Schaub to his best game of the season. He threw for more than 300 yards in his first outing without a sack or a turnover.

"I think we're better when we're balanced and getting that ball spread around like we did the other day," coach Gary Kubiak said. "Those kids stepped up and made the plays."

Walter's performance against the Jaguars was more impressive considering he had a toe injury that kept him out of practice last Wednesday and limited him on Thursday.

"He was very, very hobbled on Thursday," Kubiak said "I didn't even know if he would play and then he goes in and makes the plays that he made. That's just the way he is."

Daniels has been important not just for the number of receptions he's had, but the quality of those catches. He's made first downs on 11 of his 14 catches this season and 76 of his 111 career receptions have moved the chains.

Even if Johnson doesn't get many receptions, his presence is key to Houston's offense. The Texans were 6-3 last season when he played and 2-5 when he was out with a knee injury.

The almost constant double teams have Johnson a bit frustrated, but he's more troubled by Houston's 0-3 record than his statistics.

"There's nothing I can do about that," he said. "That's not my call. That's out of my control. I just go out and play. I just go out and do what I can do to help the team win and that's what I'm going to continue to do. All I care about is winning."

Walter and Daniels hope they can keep the passing game rolling this week if the Colts key on Johnson the way other teams have.

"It's all about executing," Walter said. "We can all go out there and make plays, it's about getting the opportunity and executing."

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