"As a nine-year guy, you want to be the guy the younger guys can look to to see how things are done," said Owen Daniels. "See how a pro operates and how he takes care of himself and how he prepares himself each week for a game. (Kevin Richardson)
Owen Daniels has reached familiar territory, covered many times before during his eight years with the Houston Texans.
The veteran tight end is operating as the Ravens' primary tight end, taking over as the starter with Dennis Pitta out for the season with a fractured and dislocated right hip.
The two-time Pro Bowl selection has caught 19 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns and is on pace to finish the season with 60 receptions for 585 yards and six touchdowns. During the Ravens' 20-13 loss to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, Daniels played 97 percent of the snaps as rookie backup Crockett Gillmore played 12 snaps behind him.
"It's just changed in the amount of reps I've been getting," Daniels said. "In terms of what I'm doing on the field, it's all the same stuff for the most part. Now I guess it's a little different: I would be playing Crockett's spot when we have two tight ends, and now I'm in Dennis' spot what he was doing. A little bit different there, but that's what I did in Houston for the most part for the time I was down there. Just a little more reps on game day, which I'm OK with."
Daniels caught five passes for 70 yards against the Colts. Out of his 19 catches, 13 of them have gone for first downs.
And Daniels has caught a pass in 93 consecutive games, the longest active streak among NFL tight ends.
"Whether I'm getting 25 reps, 30 reps or playing every play of the game, I'm trying to play hard every play and be productive and help the team out any way I can," Daniels said. "I don't put any extra pressure on myself or any extra expectations. I expect myself to go out there every week and produce and help us win."
Daniels, 31, has also provided a mentoring presence to yuonger players like Gillmore.
"I like that role," Daniels said. "As a nine-year guy, you want to be the guy the younger guys can look to to see how things are done and see how a pro operates and how he takes care of himself and how he prepares himself each week for a game.
"Hopefully, I can pass some things along to them and help them prepare every week, just anything I can do to help those guys out. I had some great leadership when I was a young tight end from some older veteran guys, and I'm just trying to pay it forward to them, for sure."
Daniels was limited during the preseason with a hamstring pull. Now that he's fully healthy, he's regained his old burst and has looked quick in the open field.
"Any time off, whether it's during training camp or during the week, helps in the long term," Daniels said. "It takes some wear and tear off the body. I'm mentally there as far as what we're doing offensively. As long as I can keep myself physically ready to go, I feel like I can help out the team a lot."