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How much impact will Owen Daniels make?

9/2/2014

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Tight end Owen Daniels said he's healthy enough to play. How much he'll end up playing for the Baltimore Ravens remains a question mark.

Daniels caught only one pass for 6 yards in the preseason because he missed the final three games with what he called a hamstring injury. The two-time Pro Bowl player didn't show much explosion off the line or separation from defenders in training camp, which raised doubts about how he would fit in the team's game plan heading into Sunday's season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I’m just going to do what I can, whatever I’m asked to do," Daniels said after Tuesday's practice. "Hopefully, I’ll be out there a bunch. Hopefully, we’ll run a lot of two-tight end sets and keep defenses off balance. I think Dennis [Pitta] and I complement each other very well, especially when we’re out on the field together. But whether it’s blocking in the running game or pass protection or moving the chains, I’m here to do a job and do it well."

The Bengals were tough on tight ends last season. They limited tight ends to 630 yards receiving, the second fewest in the NFL.

But Daniels has had success against the Bengals. He caught two touchdown passes against them in 2009, produced 100 yards receiving on seven catches in 2011 and caught nine passes for 91 yards receiving in a 2012 playoff game.

The Ravens aren't tipping their hand to the Bengals on any player who missed time in the preseason. Asked about Daniels, coach John Harbaugh said, "I'm not going to comment on any guys where they stand health-wise or anything like that."

Harbaugh insisted Daniels wasn't injured, saying the 31-year-old tight end was dealing with swelling and leg fatigue.

"Everyone’s legs are tired, I think, and I’m not the oldest guy," Daniels said. "It was definitely a hammy issue, but that’s behind us now and we’re just moving forward with it."

Daniels' reputation is that he's very productive when healthy. He's averaged 62 catches in the four seasons in which he's played at least 15 games.

Daniels is coming off a season in which he missed the final 11 games because of a broken leg.

"I’ve felt great all offseason, in minicamps, that first part of training camp. I felt great," Daniels said. "The leg I broke last year is a non-issue. I haven’t even thought about it at all. It’s like it never happened. Other than that, I’m feeling good."

Even though this a new team for Daniels, it's not a new system. He reunited with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak, who was Daniels' head coach in Houston from 2006-13. That's why the time off recently wasn't a big deal to Daniels.

"I got a ton of good work in those first two weeks," Daniels said. "Obviously, I would have liked to have been out there, but we played it smart. Week 1 is the most important thing."