OXNARD, Calif. – Cole Beasley has found his role in the Cowboys' offense. A valuable one, at that. He put on a show with several catches in Sunday's Blue-White scrimmage, including a touchdown in team drills.
The Cowboys' third receiver also welcomes the chance to return punts this season if called upon.
"Any extra opportunities to get the ball in my hands," he said earlier in the week, "I'm definitely all for it."
Beasley said he returned a few punts as a senior at SMU, and he's taken preseason reps for the Cowboys in the past. But the job belonged to Dwayne Harris full time the last two seasons, and now the club is looking for his replacement on kick and punt returns.
Beasley's hands, his quickness and his feel for finding openings in traffic all make him a good candidate for fielding punts. He ripped off a long return in Sunday's scrimmage, though tackling wasn't permitted.[embeddedad0]
"I've had the ball in my hands for a long time, ever since I can remember playing football," he said. "I've been running with it for a long time."
The Cowboys have given Beasley more and more run on offense since he signed as a rookie free agent in 2012. Working mostly out of the slot last year, he tallied a career-high 420 yards with four touchdowns and the Cowboys rewarded him with a four-year, $13.6 million contract.
"Bease is just a talented guy," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He's quick, he's fast, he's elusive, he's got a good understanding. There are no limitations to what he can do as an inside receiver and I think he's improved his inventory outside as well."
A star high school quarterback in the Dallas area, Beasley and Tony Romo have developed a strong rapport on offense due in part to Beasley's understanding of routes and timing for the quarterback.
Returns are a possibility for Beasley, too. The Cowboys would seem more likely to evaluate rookies such as Lucky Whitehead and Reggie Dunn in next week's preseason opener, but they know Beasley is a steady option this season if called upon.
"If we feel like he's the best guy to go back and return for us, he certainly will be given the opportunity to do that," Garrett said.