Things just aren't getting any easier for the Houston Texans. Just one day after a humiliating 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported that tight end Owen Daniels could miss significant time with an injured fibula.
McClain later speculated that, if the injury is serious, Daniels could be placed on injured reserve with the designation to return. That would force the tight end to miss at least eight weeks.
That's the last thing that Houston needs right now.
After a 2012 season during which the team finished 12-4 and won a playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, expectations were high for the 2013 season. Unfortunately, the new campaign has not begun as anticipated.
The Texans find themselves in a hole with a 2-3 record and difficult remaining schedule. Last season, the final AFC wild-card spot went to the Bengals with a 10-6 record. Houston will have to win eight of its final 11 games to reach that mark—a daunting task.
The loss of Daniels certainly does not help the Texans' cause.
Quarterback Matt Schaub has struggled this season. The 10-year veteran has thrown for 1,366 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions for a passer rating of 76.9 through five games. Daniels has been on the receiving end of 252 of those yards and caught three of Schaub's eight touchdowns.
Daniels has been Schaub's security blanket since 2007. The chemistry that they have together is simply irreplaceable. The loss of Daniels is especially devastating to Schaub right now, as the quarterback has been playing some terrible football this year.
One weakness of Houston's offense has always been the lack of a second wide receiver.
The team addressed that issue by drafting DeAndre Hopkins in the first round in 2013. However, Hopkins is still just a rookie—the need for a solid tight end will continue to be relevant.
Top wide receiver Andre Johnson has had his fair share of injury concerns already this season. Johnson had an injury scare after leaving the Week 3 game against the Baltimore Ravens, then suffered a concussion the following week against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Texans do not exactly have a deep wide receiver corps, which makes Daniels' presence all the more important.
Houston's second option at the tight end position is fourth-year player Garrett Graham. Before 2013, Graham recorded a total of just 29 career receptions. He does already have 15 catches and three touchdowns this season, but his inexperience could begin to show without opposing defenses focusing on Daniels.
Stepping back and looking at the Texans' current situation leaves plenty of questions about this team going forward. There are plenty of glaring weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball that could rear their ugly heads if Daniels does miss a significant amount of time.
With a struggling quarterback, banged up No. 1 wide receiver, rookie No. 2 wide receiver and inexperienced backup tight end, it's hard to see this team winning eight of its final 11 games this season.
The injury to Daniels could be the straw to break the camel's back for the 2013 Texans.