Seven times in his life, Jesse Holley has had an NFL quarterback throw him the football in a regular-season game.
Seven times in his life, Holley has made the catch.
Seven times, it's been for a first down.
No, he's not getting the ball on a regular basis, considering Holley is preparing to play his 25th pro game Sunday night against the Giants. But so far, any and every time Tony Romo has gone his way, Holley has delivered.
No moment was bigger for Holley, and maybe even this team, than in Week 2 at San Francisco. The Cowboys' first play of overtime was a play-action pass to Holley, who was in the game because Miles Austin was sidelined with the first of two hamstring injuries this year. Holley couldn't have been more open on the play, and he went for 77 yards to set up the game-winning field goal.
Earlier in that game, Holley had two key catches on the Cowboys' game-tying field goal drive. And as of late, Holley has been coming up with key receptions, including two last week at the Cardinals for 31 yards. He also had a 25-yard catch against Buffalo and a 17-yard reception versus DeAngelo Hall and the Redskins three games ago.
"It's just something that I've done ever since I've gotten here – just stayed ready for the moment," Holley said. "It took me a long time to get here. And I'm here now and I have to make sure I'm ready for any time they call on me."
So how does he do that exactly?
"Well, in my mind, I prepare as if I'll be the starter this week," said Holley. "When I go in the game, I'm the starter."
Now as Holley is making this statement in the locker room, Miles Austin is walking by and stops to listen to the encouraging words. Austin is nodding, puts his hand out to shake Holley's. So then Austin is asked the question.
*Was that his mindset when he was a backup receiver for the first few years of his career?
- "Absolutely and it's still my mindset," Austin said. "And that's not a mindset that he is going to keep for this week or anything. It's a mindset that will be instilled with him throughout his career."
And as team's starting receiver kept walking, Holley didn't mind pointing out that Austin's success is what he's striving for.
"Miles is the perfect example of a guy who stands in front of you and you see the things he's done over time," Holley said. "When Miles became Miles Austin … in four years he had 18 career catches. You never know when that moment is going to come and you turn that corner and become … Miles Austin.
"I'm not saying I'm trying to become the next Miles Austin. But you see a situation where a guy had 18 catches in four years and the next season, he's at the Pro Bowl. That's just his work ethic and continuing to work harder and harder. Now he's one of the best receivers in the game."
Whether or not Holley becomes a starter or even a regular contributor, it's pretty clear that he has the mindset to be one.