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Roster Rundown: Backup TE Phillips Hits Free Agency

Posted Feb 21, 2013

(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players’ impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2012 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features tight end John Phillips.)

Name: John Phillips
Position: Tight End  
Height/Weight: 6-5 / 251
Experience: 4 seasons
College: Virginia

Key stat: Though he only had 10 targets, he hauled in eight of them. He also hauled in a touchdown catch against the Giants, finishing the season with only two fewer scores than Jason Witten.

Contract Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

2012 Impact:  He was projected as the blocker of the group of tight ends but really never developed into that role. Always played with effort, smarts and reliable hands. Needed more from him at the point of attack in the running game but was a struggle for him to get push and sustain his blocks. More of a getting in the way blocker than one that was going to hammer his man off the line. Viewed him as the “Stunt Man” that did the jobs that no one else could or wanted to do. Saw him line up at several different positions in the formation which was a credit to him. Took a back seat later in the season with the development of James Hanna when the coaches wanted to take advantage of his athletic ability. Throughout the season was a member of the majority of the special teams. Would cover kicks, block in the return game and handle the assignment along with Jason Witten as the wing on the field goal team. Again the willingness was there but he was limited in what he could accomplish.  

Where He Fits: Is an unrestricted free agent this Spring which means he will most likely look for other opportunities but could come back if there is nothing to his liking. My gut feeling tells me that the front office and coaches will look for a better option in this current draft class to find a player that might be a little better fit that can not only make plays in the passing game but gives them more at the point of attack. A guy that could fit that bill might be Travis Kelce of Cincinnati from the early players I have studied. John Phillips gave this team everything he had but in my eyes, he never was the same after hurting his knee a couple of seasons ago in training camp in San Antonio which was a shame because he appeared that he could have been a fixture here for more time than he was.

Writers' Analysis:

Rowan Kavner – Phillips was likely to bring the ball down when a pass went his direction. The problem for Phillips is passes rarely went his way. His production went down from 2011, catching only one pass in his final nine games of the 2012 season. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cowboys move on, particularly after James Hanna got involved late, catching at least one pass in each of the final four games of the season.
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