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Owen Daniels ready for new challenge with Ravens

Daniels said, "there is no limit to what direction we can go."

Owen Daniels is excited about being back in Gary Kubiak's "tight-end friendly offense."
Owen Daniels is excited about being back in Gary Kubiak's "tight-end friendly offense."

No one wants to be shown the door. Especially not Owen Daniels.

After eight seasons with the Houston Texans, the new coaching staff decided to let him go. Daniels took that as a slight, as if he wasn't deemed good enough for the new regime.

But now that he's landed with Baltimore for what's being reported as a one-year, $2 million maximum deal, he'll have a chance to face his old franchise this season when the Ravens travel down to Houston to take on the Texans.

"When you're with a franchise that long, and then all of a sudden they decide you're not good enough for them anymore, and they want to go in a different direction, yes, that definitely gives you a big chip, and it gets you motivated," Daniels told reporters on Friday. "I think we're playing down there this year, so ... what Steve Smith said about playing in Carolina ..."

Daniels was referring to Smith stating there would be "blood and guts" if he signed with a team that faced the Panthers in Carolina. Fortunately for Smith, the Ravens will play the Panthers, though it will be at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens will actually travel down to Houston, which will see Daniels, offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, quarterbacks coach Rick Dennison and tight ends coach Brian Pariani step foot in NRG Stadium for the first time since being dismissed.

Payback will certainly be on their minds, whether they'll publicly say it the way Daniels did.

One obvious draw for Daniels to join the Ravens was to reunite with Kubiak, whose offense did wonders for him in Houston. He finished his eight-year tenure with 4,617 yards and 29 touchdowns.

"I think we're playing down [in Houston] this year, so ... what Steve Smith said about playing in Carolina ..." -Owen Daniels

"It's a tight-end friendly offense," Daniels said. "We spread the ball around to a lot to a lot of people. There is no forcing it into one guy, and there are so many weapons here that it's going to be hard for defenses. We're going to have defenses preparing for a lot of different things, which is what you want on a week-to-week basis."

Kubiak's offense utilizes two-tight end sets frequently, which will allow Daniels to work in tandem with Dennis Pitta. The two could potentially become the duo the Ravens thought would emerge with Pitta and Ed Dickson, who is still a free agent looking for a new team.

"To me, the sky is the limit," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We're not going to try to downplay anything that we're capable of accomplishing. These are two of the best tight ends in the National Football League who fit this offense really, really well. That's what we're looking at. Hey, no promises; we have to go out and do it, and we have to prove it. And there will be more tight ends in here besides just two. Use your imagination. You guys know football; you can see where this is going."

Given these two tight ends (as well as the additional ones Harbaugh is alluding to) and a receiving group that features Torrey Smith, Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Marlon Brown, it looks as if Kubiak will have more to work with in the passing game than he did when he was at his most successful with Houston in 2011 and 2012.

A lot will depend on how well the offense adjusts to the zone blocking scheme he's installing, but upgrading at center with Jeremy Zuttah is certainly a start. Having a healthy Kelechi Osemele would go a long way as well, too.

With what the Ravens have brought in around Joe Flacco, there's no reason why this offense can't rebound from last year's substandard campaign.

"With everybody that's here, with the playmakers we have, there is no limit to what direction we can go and what we can do in terms of play-calling and what we can do week to week to get the job done," Daniels said. "I don't know what Coach Kubiak has planned, but it's always been something where whatever we've installed, whatever we do, we've had success with, and I don't think that will be any different here."