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The “Big Step” That Got Rico Gathers On The Roster

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FRISCO, Texas – Rico Gathers’ first day on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster didn’t go at all as planned.

Hours before Saturday’s final cuts, news broke that Gathers had been arrested for misdemeanor marijuana possession in the Frisco area. He reportedly posted bond and was released from jail just as the Cowboys were making their final roster decisions.

Ultimately, Garrett said the incident wasn’t enough to keep Gathers off the roster. The team had seen too much progress from the developmental tight end since drafting him in the seventh round in 2016 out of Baylor, where he starred in basketball, not football.

“He’s grown and developed as a tight end,” Garrett said. “He’s doing more of the things that a tight end needs to do better. Some of the things are coming more naturally to him. He’s getting better at some of the things he hasn’t had that much experience. He had a good training camp and a good preseason.

“One of the things that was impressive things about him was, even though he was learning, you could tell he was thinking and he made aggressive mistakes. He played fast. His inexperience didn’t cause him to slow down. I think that’s a big step for a player. He got better and better and better.”

Garrett and Gathers have exchanged texts about the tight end’s arrest, an incident that was “poor judgment on his part,” Garrett said. The players get back to work Tuesday in preparation for Sunday’s season opener at Carolina.

The Cowboys kept four tight ends on the roster: projected starter Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, fourth-round pick Dalton Schultz and Gathers. Can Gathers find his way onto the 46-man game-day roster?

“That’s another thing that happened with Rico this year - I think he improved on special teams to the point where we started to be able to trust him a little bit more,” Garrett said. “That will be a big factor for him and for all the guys (in consideration).”

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