Ravens safety Bernard Pollard has tangled with too many tight ends and pass-catching running backs to recall. But his toughest assignment may take place Sunday when Owen Daniels and the Houston Texans visit M&T Bank Stadium.

Pollard, a former Texan, said he likes Daniels, a Pro Bowl tight end, but those feelings won’t matter when the game begins.

“He’s a guy who’s going to get hit,” Pollard said Thursday. “Once he catches that ball – if he catches a ball – he’s going to get hit. But I respect him.”

Pollard, who is expected to start at strong safety if Tom Zbikowski (concussion) is unavailable, is very familiar with the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Daniels as they were teammates in 2009 and 2010.

“Owen’s a great athlete,” Pollard said. “He’s a guy who has come off of two ACL surgeries, and he’s responding well. He fits in with that system, with the way [Texans coach Gary] Kubiak runs that offense. He can run like a receiver, block like a lineman, and he can do certain things in the passing game and get open. So you’ve got to keep your eyes focused on him. When you’re in man coverage, your eyes have got to be on him.”

Daniels’ role becomes even more significant with the absence of five-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson (right hamstring). Without Johnson, the offense will likely turn to Daniels, who ranks second behind Johnson in both receptions (21) and yards (271), to spearhead the aerial attack.

Daniels was asked Wednesday by Houston reporters if Pollard could hang with him.

“Can he hang with me? He’ll probably get the assignment to cover me. We’ll see,” Daniels said. “It’ll be fun. I really didn’t get to go against him that much last year during camp or anything like that because I was injured. All those guys are tough to get open on, so we’ll see.”