IRVING, Texas - There is a long list of remembers. You know . . . .
Remember the Alamo.
Remember the Maine.
Remember the Titans.
Let's add another to the list.
Remember Patrick Crayton. He seems to be a forgotten man.
Once again, as there seems to be more often than not this time of year at The Ranch of late, there is much consternation taking place over the wide receiver position. Who's No. 1? Who's No. 2? Is there even a No. 3? And what's behind all that?
The Cowboys could make their own version of the 1949 baseball comedy It Happens Every Spring, starring Ray Milland and Jean Peters.
Now much attention has been placed on Roy Williams. No need to even go there - again. Great expectations encompass Miles Austin. That, too, has been well documented, the hope being the fourth-year receiver mostly been known for his kickoff-return ability blossoms into a legit NFL receiver.
And there is speculation on just what Sam Hurd and Isaiah Stanback can do, and even the other day fielded a question on Manuel Johnson, the wide receiver from Oklahoma, the 229th player taken in the 256-player draft for goodness sakes.
Hello? Anyone remember Crayton, once the darling of that '04 draft, when he, no more than a seventh-rounder from tiny Northwestern Oklahoma State, made this team and then turned into a reliable third receiver in 2006, catching 36 passes - four for touchdowns?
It's as if the fans, and really the Cowboys, too, in this great quest to quench their thirst for a dynamic second receiver last year, forgot all about what Crayton can do - has done. He was rudely shoved to No. 3 status once the Cowboys traded for Williams at mid-season last year, more so because of what the Cowboys gave up for Williams than anything he actually did or Crayton didn't do.
That seems to have caused the 30-year-old receiver from nearby DeSoto, Texas, to drop out of the discussion for 2009, along with the Cowboys themselves wrapping Austin with great anticipation even if he's only caught 18 passes during his three-year NFL career. He is being touted, and probably rightfully so, as the guy *
Joey Galloway (52 in 2001, one less than Rocket Ismail), Mike Renfro (60 in 1985) and Drew Pearson (55 in 1979).
And get this, when it comes to the receiver with the second-most catches in a season over the past 40: Only Alvin Harper, Renfro and Pearson totaled more than Crayton's seven touchdown grabs. All three had eight, just one more.
So you see what I'm talkin' about?
Crayton did something right that 2007 season, even if most want to remember his drop in the playoff loss to the Giants that if caught would have picked up a crucial first down and could have gone for like 50 yards, who knows, maybe even a touchdown. He produced as the team's No. 2 wide receiver all season.
Why not again?
Sure Crayton was a little put off last year when the Cowboys just handed Williams his No. 2 job, saying, "but I understand the reason. You got to put him on the field" after giving up that first and third for the Detroit receiver. Crayton dealt with being No. 3, yet still managed 39 catches for 550 yards and four touchdowns, again, second most among the wide receivers.
And had he remained the No. 2 guy all year, instead of just for the first eight games, he likely would have at least added Williams' 19 grabs to his total, which would have approached 60 and surely seven touchdowns again.
Nonchalantly, he now deals with being overlooked, so many seemingly forgetting what he once did.
"I'm good, I'm low key," said Crayton, referring to this perception now more so than how at times he has spoken up over the past couple of seasons.
And while that might be, he's not taking anything for granted. Crayton said he's been working on his acceleration, getting off the line of scrimmage much quicker, regardless if he's lined up as the No. 2 guy out wide or the No. 3 guy in the slot.
He's done so this off-season by training, too, at the Michael Johnson Performance center in McKinney, Texas, where many a college athlete has gone to prepare for the NFL Combine and Pro Day workout, trying to improve their 40 times, and thus, their draft status.
Crayton, the former college quarterback, and really football handyman, says the work is paying off.
"You feel it when you're running," he says of improving his speed.
If Crayton needed to remind members of the leering press what he's capable of doing, he just might have done so this past Tuesday at the team's fourth of 12 organized team activity workouts, the sixth of which is scheduled for Friday. Crayton appeared to be a favorite target of the quarterbacks that day, making several catches, including a nifty over-the-head grab in the back corner of the end zone.
That all was enough to grab some attention after practice, even if downplaying all that or his forgotten-guy status.
"I'm like when you go to the concession stands at the Mavericks," Crayton said. "I'm not taking the orders. I'm cooking the burgers in the back."
Where he very well might cook up a storm this season.
And don't you forget it.