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Mailbag: Career Year For Terrance Williams? Gathers Standing Out At TE?

TJ MCCAULEYNEW MARKET, MD

When comparing Rico Gathers to the other tight ends, is there anything that stands out that makes you think "this can make this guy special"? How is his route running developing? Hope he can block well once the pads come on!

Rob:Physically, Gathers has the frame to be a strong blocker at the point of attack – and his aggressive style as a rebounder could translate well to football. From what we saw at rookie minicamp, OTAs and team minicamp, Gathers has good hands and he runs well. He's a natural athlete. The biggest challenge is probably learning the nuances of an NFL offense and developing as a route runner after spending so much time away from football. He's committed to doing that.

Bryan: His size and athletic ability give him a chance to be special but honestly this is going to be a real uphill climb for him. The learning curve is very steep at that position because of all the things you have to be both run and pass. Where I thought he struggled the most during the OTAs and minicamps was with the speed of the game. Things happen very quickly for him and until he feels comfortable with that, I just don't see him as part of the 53. If they keep him on the roster, it will be to protect him from being claimed off waivers.

RYAN WEIDLICHSCIOTA, PA

With Terrance Williams being in a contract year, isn't it realistic to expect a career year from him? And if he proves he's worth a payday, does that help or hurt the Cowboys' chances of retaining him after this season? Or will the Cowboys move on from him?

Rob: Williams actually had a career year last season in terms of catches (52), which makes sense given the seven games Dez Bryant missed due to injury. His 713 receiving yards nearly matched his 2013 career high (736), but his three touchdowns were a career low. Maybe that had something to do with defenses focusing more on him without Bryant, as well as the offense's general struggles to move the ball down the field without Tony Romo. I think it's too early to talk about Williams' future in Dallas beyond 2016, but the Cowboys don't necessarily need "career" numbers from him. They just need him to win consistent one-on-one matchups with Bryant on the field, and 45-50 catches in this offense seems about right.

Bryan: If Terrance Williams plays like he did the final game of 2015, then he will be worth a payday. If he doesn't then they will likely move on. The problem is that there have been times where Williams has been outstanding but the majority of his career he's been just steady. Granted, quarterback play has been an issue at times but for a receiver looking for a bigger contract in the future but this team needs him to be more than just steady.

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