(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth of a 12-part series examining and analyzing the main position groups for the Cowboys as they prepare for training camp. Today’s piece focuses on the tight ends.)
What’s the Deal?
Still Need to Find Out:
How Scott Linehan changes the production of this group and its depth. One of Linehan’s best abilities last season in Detroit was getting the secondary players involved in the offense. For example, he kept backup running back Joique Bell involved with 650 rushing yards and 547 receiving yards. He also had a knack for getting all his tight ends involved in the red zone. Brandon Pettigrew only had two touchdowns, but seven of Joseph Fauria’s 18 receptions went for touchdowns. Escobar has the size to make a similar impact in Linehan’s offense, and the Cowboys need him to be a weapon when the field starts to shrink.
It’s difficult to know which numbers to focus on more for Witten – the 73 catches and 851 yards or the eight touchdowns. The reception and yardage totals were his lowest since 2006. Conversely, his touchdown total was the second-highest of his career. But let’s put Witten’s decreasing reception and yardage totals in perspective. He still finished in the top five in the league among tight ends in both categories. If the Cowboys end up focusing on the running game more, though – which they may now with the addition of
Ready to Breakout?
It’s tempting to mention Hanna here, considering he was viewed as one of the most popular breakout candidates last year. But it seems the likeliest candidate to breakout at this position is the guy the Cowboys spent a recent second-round pick on, and that’s Escobar. The consensus on Escobar was that he needed an offseason getting stronger in the weight room and with the training staff to get to where the Cowboys hope he can be. We’ll see soon at training camp if his offseason paid off, and they’re expecting him to make much more of an impact this coming year.
Battle to Watch:
Coming out of Oxnard in 2013, they had four tight ends on the active roster but no fullback. They might not be able to do that if they decide to keep
Last Time Out:
For a look back at how all the tight ends on the roster performed last year, click here.