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44) Can Jason Witten Find The End Zone More Often?


IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.

Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.

As we count down the days to camp, the writers of will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.

With 44 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today's question centers on the team's top tight end.  

44) Can the Cowboys find a way to get the touchdown total up for Jason Witten, who's scored 44 times in 10 seasons?

Jason Witten set multiple records last season when he finished with 110 receptions, but only three of those catches ended in touchdowns.

Despite his ability to get open between the 20s, everything tightened up for the Cowboys and for Witten in the red zone, particularly early in the season when he scored just once in the first 13 games. He found a way to cross the goal line twice in the final three games, giving him three touchdowns for the season and 44 for his career.

The Cowboys struggled in the red zone the last couple seasons, scoring a touchdown only half the times they got inside the 20-yard line. It was at its worst last year, when they scored a touchdown just 57 percent of the time they got inside the 10-yard line. Part of the reason was they couldn't find their top target when the field was shortened.

Witten's touchdown production has fluctuated from season to season. He had seven touchdowns in his first 1,000-yard season in 2007. His next 1,000-yard season came two years later, but he finished with just two scores that year. The next year he found the end zone nine times.

But the last two seasons, his touchdown total's gone from five in 2011 to three in 2012. He works diligently to get open up and down the field, but the Cowboys haven't found him near the goal line.

The additions of Gavin Escobar and Dante Rosario could help the Cowboys in the red zone with larger targets, but they still need to find a way for their top tight end target to get more touches for points. [embedded_ad]

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let's take a closer look at the number 44:

  • Robert Newhouse has worn the No. 44 longer than any Cowboys player in team history, wearing it from 1972-83 as a fullback. The Longview, Texas, native won a Super Bowl and rushed for 4,784 yards with 31 rushing touchdowns during his career.
  • Dallas native Everson Walls sits second on the Cowboys' all-time interceptions list with 44 career picks, eight behind Mel Renfro.
  • The Cowboys have been on the positive and negative end of some games where one team scores 44 points. Starting with the bad, the Eagles clinched a playoff berth in the final regular season game of 2008 with a 44-6 win against the Cowboys. The good came three years later, when the Cowboys stomped the Bills, 44-7, in 2011.
  • Dallas beat Seattle by 44 points in November 1980 with a 51-7 victory for the Cowboys' fifth-largest margin of victory in team history. Their largest margin of defeat was also by 44 points, when they were blanked by Chicago in November 1985.
  • Antonio Bryant finished third all-time in receptions by a Cowboys' rookie with 44 catches in 2002. Dez Bryant finished with 45 in 2010 and Bob Hayes had the most with 46 in 1965.
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