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Can TE Rico Gathers be More Than a Just Receiving Threat?

Brian Martin



Rico Gathers, Rams

Rico Gathers is trying to follow in the footsteps of Tony Gonzales, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham as someone who has successfully made the transition from college basketball player to tight end in the NFL. Unfortunately, that transition hasn't gone quite as smoothly as he probably would've hoped.

To date, Gathers really hasn't been able to put a lot on tape. He spent his rookie season on the practice squad with the Dallas Cowboys, but did gain some valuable experience working with Tony Romo. Last year he was just beginning to show what kind of threat he could be in the passing game when he unfortunately sustained a concussion in practice, pretty much ending his season.

As you can imagine, Rico Gathers still has a lot to prove heading into the 2018 season. In no way is his roster spot guaranteed right now. He may still be the most talented and physically gifted TE on the Cowboys roster, but that will only get him so far.

I for one think Gathers can be a tremendous threat in the passing game. I think the flashes we saw in preseason a year ago are exactly the kind of weapon he can turn into for Dak Prescott. He is even working a route running guru, David Robinson, to become even better in the passing game. But, we all know the Cowboys coaching staff demands a lot more from their tight ends.

Rico Gathers, Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Rico Gathers

In the Cowboys offensive scheme, the tight end is an important position. They have to be able to block in several different areas depending on the formation, especially at the point of attack as an in-line blocker, sometimes being left one on one against a defensive end. That means they have to be assignment sound pre and post snap, with the ability to make the right adjustments in a split second.

For Rico Gathers, this is the area of his game holding him back the most right now. We all know what kind of threat he can be in the passing game, but the Cowboys coaching staff wants someone they can trust to leave on the field down after down. This is where Gathers will have to prove himself the remainder of the offseason.

The Dallas Cowboys knew Rico Gathers was a developmental prospect when they drafted him in the sixth-round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They didn't know how long it would take for him to be be able to contribute, but that time may be running out. Year 3 could be his last chance to prove himself in Dallas.

Gathers is a mismatch player in the passing game against smaller defensive backs, but that might not be enough for the Cowboys coaching staff to keep him around. I would personally get him involved in the receiving game, especially with all the new faces Prescott will be throwing to this season, but unfortunately I'm not making those decisions.

Do you think Rico Gathers is more than just a passing game threat?

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • Chet Horton

    No he won’t and he isn’t even a threat in the passing game. He is an awful football player. He is a horrible route runner and can’t block even a little bit. He doesn’t know the offense. He isn’t any faster and definitely not as quick as any of the real TE’s on the roster. The only thing he has on even the worst TE in the NFL is height and he can rebound. As a pro football player he is a waste of time, space, and money. The sooner we cut him and move on the better.

    • SmittyW

      Chet is pretty much on the money.
      With coaches still criticizing Gaither’s efforts and skill set, it’s pretty obvious a failed experiment.
      He either makes the team (which I doubt) or is cut by the end of this training camp.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

        Chet is wrong about Rico…

    • Sidney Montgomery

      I wouldn’t say he’s the worst TE from what I’ve seen. I liked his receiving ability, I don’t know if by design but the Cowboys don’t show much tape on his technique. I don’t think they are happy with him but are afraid he might turn out to be pretty special on another team. I guess training camp will tell. Just don’t take too much time from other developing TEs.

      • kabob

        I honestly don’t think how a player would do for another team factors into the Cowboys’ roster decisions at all. In the past, they’ve parted ways with multiple players with potential that didn’t work out for them but could have or later did better on other teams. Heck, they’ve made a living banking on those same players on other teams working out here in Dallas with different coaching and scheme fit. If Gathers can succeed for another team, that’s a benefit to both him and the Cowboys. The other NFC East teams are stacked at TE so it’s not like a division rival would pick him up and start him.

        • Sidney Montgomery

          It’s not so much of what he will do for another team but they took a raw talent and in my opinion he is ok as a receiver but his blocking technique is lacking. If they still had a Jason Witten on the roster they could continue to develop that but they have too many young other young TE to work with. Perhaps if he goes to another team short at TE they would have time to work with him. I think at some point he will become a decent player. Remember, he is learning the position at the Nfl level.

          • kabob

            A team that picks up a player off another’s practice squad has to put him on the active squad. No team’s going to do that when he can’t even come close to making it with the Cowboys. He’d have to be cut and picked up off waivers.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Wrong in your point about no NFC east team not picking him up
          Philly tried to pluck Jarwin just this past season
          I can see them using Rico like Ertz
          By the way, coaches, writers, & experts have the same bones with Jarwin blocking deficiencies
          Yes Rico is a receiving threat
          He outshined them all last preseason & with all 3 Qb’s
          Experts favors Jarwin ahead of Swaim who has all 9 catches between TE’s

          So this dies cast a good light on Swaim
          They say Schultz has quite a ways to go before he’s NFL ready


          Dallas coaches say Witten can’t be replaced & they’re not trying
          The NFL is a copy cat league & we just assume Dallas will stuck withbthe status quo

          JG says Rico just needs to play more ball
          Practice won’t be enough

          This means he intended to play him to get him up to par
          Dallas is moving towards change & implementation
          Why will they give opponents a heads up on our plans
          Haven’t we said we’re too predictable?
          So why assume we’re gonna stay the course TE-wise ?
          Or concerning any true gameplan for that matter?

          May the spirit of Bill Belichek supersede our coaching tendency to give family secret recipes away prematurely

          • kabob

            What you think now that training camp has proven Rico can’t run routes properly still, is slow out of his stance and he’s completely out of place with his hand, feet, and direction? Still looks like a beginner.

          • Sexcdex Xfact

            Schultz doing OK but blowing assignments
            Jarwin outdoing em all but has missed assignments
            Rico is progressing & being blasted for his missteps
            Ain’t been hearing much on Swaim
            Rico been showing out receiving wise
            He’s not far tat with Jarwin
            He’s also making very nice blocks
            This is from several days of padded practices
            From analysists reviews

            Your point is secondary to what I plainly can see in video footage pointed out by staff writers & experts

            And by no means am I saying Rico makes the team
            But he made the 4TE roster with Jason Witten last year

            Why can’t he not make a 4TE roster this year?

    • N0L0VEThezzzhos…

      Rico will be a pro bowler anywhere he goes & gets an opportunity on the field… he’s special soft hands plays big… Cowboys hid Rico Gathers last year on the injured list… Gathers could have played more than half the season… The cowboys have very weak player development coaches/program… Release Rico & i guarantee he starts & becomes a pro bowler on the team that signs him…

      • SmittyW

        A pro bowler? Is that you Rico?

        Seriously, what evidence do you have that a guy who cannot make the roster is going to be an NFL active player much less a pro bowler ?

      • Chet

        No way no how will he ever even be a 3rd string TE in the NFL. He isn’t special. He isn’t fast. He isn’t quick. Every TE on the roster is as fast or faster than him and they are all quicker. He looks like he is running in slow motion when running routes. He gets zero separation. He doesn’t catch any better than any of the other Dallas TE’s. He doesn’t have soft hands his hands are average for the NFL. He can’t block. He can’t take a hit. The only thing he has going is that he is tall. He wasn’t even an above average Division I basketball player or he would be in the NBA making a lot more money. He is a horrible football player and will never amount to anything in the NFL.

    • Not your goat

      Did you watch the Cowboys in the preseason last year? Rico played like what Marty Bennett wanted to. Caught balls in traffic, red zone, on the run, all hand catches. I understand you have heard this and that about how bad he blocks but honestly it benefits keeping a practice squad player from getting plucked. After the initial hype over Jarwin last year we heard the same kind of stuff. The Cowboys have always been good at and emphasized teaching so Rico is definitely in the right spot. This team needs difference makers and I see 2018 as the year Jerry gets some credit for a few of these risky but high reward decisions he’s made recently. This team is seriously on the verge of not just being good but dominant and if TE, FS or WR is holding us back come camp the Cowboys will undoubtedly make a move anyways. We still have the cap to sign any contract we want besides a QB and if this team wins this year there’s enough cap next year to re-up EVERYONE!

      • Sexcdex Xfact

        They just won’t believe it until they see it
        And I doubt some see it even then
        Other teams have rewritten the TE position with Rico type players, hybrids, etc

        It’s like we complain about staleness in coaching but play couch-coach in suggesting we should settle for being left behind by teams that do employ fresher schemes that keeps teams guessing

        I honestly feel J Jones, JG, & Co have damaged fanbase ability to rationalize anymore

        Now that the writings on the wall as far as extreme measures to adapt by the FO, the FANBASE is still stuck in the old mold

      • Chet

        I have watched every pre-season and regular season Cowboys game for the last 10 years. Rico caught 7 passes last year against 3rd string pre-season players. He had very little separation from any of the defenders and any non drafted TE the Cowboys have ever had could have caught all of them. He is a horrible player both as a receiver and a blocker. The TE’s they have are so far superior than Rico he would never see the field then they drafted Schultz who is also a far better TE than Rico which further cemented Rico as the worst TE on the roster. In no way shape or form is Rico a difference maker, he is a liability. That sums up Rico so now let’s address why the Cowboys don’t need the type of TE you think Rico is. This is a running team and whether this team is dominate or not has nothing to do with the passing game and everything to do with the running game and the defense. The passing game is like Roger Clemens change up and slider both are good pitches but they are nothing without his fastball. Our running game is the single most important and only difference maker we need on offense to win a super bowl. So a slow, weak, poor blocking, poor route running, football ignorant TE is not a difference maker and is a waste of time, money, and air by those discussing him. He is irrelevant and will never be anything in the NFL but irrelevant.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Witt couldn’t get separated either these past few years like he use to
          But your point solidify Gathers ability tohighpoint a catch
          & Dak being able to advantage his tight window throws genius in using Rico & others
          Rico’s height advantage makes up for any speed deficiencies
          Rico has NFL preseason experience to schultzs

        • Not your goat

          Hahaha, I couldn’t even read 3 lines of that stat search contradiction. No separation but somehow still making uncontested catches anyone could make, hahaha, I wasn’t aware anyone could score in the NFL, I really need to look into this. Like I said, go watch the tape, you clearly just googled stats because those weren’t ordinary catches, 1 of them was tipped in front of him while another guy was lining him up and he outperformed every TE on the roster, not against 3rd stringers like you say either. And I’m pretty sure you might be the only person denying Rico’s physical ability, he’s a superior athlete at his position and denying that for the sake of your argument just sounds silly. I’m just curious where this analysis you have of Gathers comes from? Your own private practice sesh with him or just pure esp? My 1st cousin that I grew up w/ has an office in the Star and works for the NFL Network (you know who this person is) tells me Rico is a monster and not only is he running better routes but he’s becoming a physical blocker. Don’t believe everything you read and when a coach not known for dropping any information on any player suddenly drops negative info, it either had a different purpose or he simply wanted to motivate his young player.

      • Chet

        I do agree we are really close to being very special just disagree about how.

      • N0L0VEThezzzhos…


  • Not your goat

    I understand the concern over his pass/run blocking but on a team short of potential passing mismatches or just targets period it would be foolish to not give Rico every chance to contribute on offense. If you honestly look at this Recieving core as a whole the only 2 guys that have the potential physical ability to do things that are undefendable are Rico and Tavon. That’s a scary balance of size and speed and pure speed to gameplan against. Unproven but again on a team short of difference makers I’d give every opportunity to the guy who can impose his will and make plays that other options on the team can’t.

    • Sexcdex Xfact


      If Rico is on the field with
      (say for example)
      Swaim & Jarwin or Schultz & Swaim in a 2-3 TE set defenses just cant assume run or pass

      Just how hard is this to phantom for God’s sake?!

      I agree with you

      • Not your goat

        Schultz was widely considered the 2nd best run blocking TE (w/ a min. catch amount) in College Football, the best 1 we picked up as a UDFA. If we can use a 4th rd pick in hope of teaching a man to catch we certainly can teach a blue chip athlete how to block or at least do the bare minimum. Don’t forget we have a few All-Pro Linemen that love to pull and clean up linebackers. Those 2-3 TE sets would be so scary to teams. Most people think defenses stacked the box because we had Zeke, no the did it because Witten never left the field and he’s not fast. Imagine running the Wishbone over and over on a hurry up offense and Rico slips past a safety or 8 plays later on 2nd down we sub Austin, Thompson and Cedric Wilson. Doesn’t seem very scary yet but considering those guys all run legit 4.3’s and we just punched it down the throat of your heavy D-sets these guys will be running wild. I can’t wait, this team is so complete I can’t stand waiting anymore.

        • Sexcdex Xfact

          Philly, LA Rams & others are employing more college schemes with success
          Dak says part of Dak-friendly is spread offense & other techniques he’s accustom to
          So yeah, I can see something of the sort

  • Russ_Te

    If RG is just too much of a liability as a blocker, that will show up and he’ll be cut this preseason. If he has upside there, then get him in the pre-season games a lot and let’s see how much of a target he is. The team needs an inside weapon badly enough this year, to tolerate a learning curve as a blocker.

  • SmittyW

    Rico if you spent more time training instead of using a fake name to comment on articles about you, it’s possible though unlikely you will make the team.

  • Sexcdex Xfact

    And it will allow for much pressure off the up & coming-together receiving corp

  • kabob

    Oh yeah, Rico looking so great in training camp…. NOT. Dude is about to be cut from the team.

Star Blog

The Cowboys Blueprint for Success has been Set

Shane Carter



Monday Morning Hangover: Cowboys Dominate Jaguars Top-Ranked Defense 1

The Cowboys victory against the Jaguars was a reminder to everyone just how good Dak Prescott & Co. can be. They ran and threw all over the Jaguars defense like they were high school level. It was a one-sided, lambs to the slaughter type of game.

At the end of the game, it left all of us wondering, "where has this team been all year?"

Throughout the season, the Cowboys showed both dominance and incompetence on the offensive side of the football. One game the team moves the ball up and down the field with ease, the next game the offense looks inept. Last Sunday’s game versus Jacksonville shows that Dallas can be successful the rest of the season, if they continue to play as such.

Run the ball

This team was built to run the football. Look at the offensive line, their type of tight ends, their quarterback, and of course Ezekiel Elliott.

The line is full of first round talent, the tight ends are block-first types (sans Rico Gathers), Dak Prescott gives them another dimension with the mobile ability in and out of the pocket, and Elliott is one of if not the best running back in the league.

The concept of running the football should not be lost on this team.

If they let Elliott run 20 or more times per game, allow Prescott to run outside of the pocket and not just be a stand-still passer, and mix in some of Rod Smith and Tavon Austin (when healthy) to give their main runner a break, they can run on anyone.

Let Dak Move Around

What makes Dak Prescott so special to this team isn’t just his leadership, but also his ability to extend plays. He stays in the pocket if he has to but he’s so skilled outside with his legs. Zone read, play action, tuck and run, throw on the run, etc., any excuse to get Dak Prescott on the move is a plus. Defenses respect his ability to move so much that the Cowboys receivers get open more as a result.

The worst thing a coaching staff can do to a mobile quarterback is to keep him standing still when he can do so much more with his feet. Don’t buy a Corvette and keep it locked up in the garage. The best way for Dak Prescott to stay consistent and succeed as a passer is to let Dak be Dak.

Keep Blitzing

The Cowboys have found a serious advantage that they’ve lacked in years past. Led by DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys have 18 sacks through the first six games of the season.

Throw in the contributions of players like Taco Charlton, Tyrone Crawford, and Randy Gregory, among others, and you’ve got the deepest pass rush the Cowboys have had in years.

The team is 7th in the league in sacks and there seems to be no sign of stopping and no shortage of players who can get to the quarterback. These numbers look like they’ll only go up from here and with the amount of players the Cowboys have to do so, Jacksonville looks like it was only a taste of what’s to come.

Creative Play Calling

A little more than a week ago Jerry Jones stated that the Cowboys offense looked similar to the L.A. Rams - a hilarious notion by most accounts, right?

The Cowboys offensive scheme had been mocked all season for being both predictable and out of date. I’m not sure how many times you can run a three tight end set and expect success when it hadn't happened yet.

The team would run then throw on first and second downs, and depending on yardage, would set up a predictable third down attempt.

Against Jacksonville, we saw more read option than we’ve seen all year. Dak Prescott was vintage. His ability to move the ball with his legs made the secondary shaky against the Cowboys receivers - especially Cole Beasley - and that opened up the playbook.

Ezekiel Elliott couldn’t be stopped and just about every receiver got in on the action. Even rookie receiver Michael Gallup got in and showed some of what Cowboy fans had been waiting for.

Hopefully, that game showed just how dangerous the Cowboys can be when they are unpredictable and let their quarterback be himself. If they game planned for today the same as they did against the Jaguars, the rest of the season will be much more winnable.

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Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?

Mauricio Rodriguez



The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars

El mejor juego de los Dallas Cowboys en 2018 vino la semana pasada, cuando recibieron a los Jacksonville Jaguars y los vencieron 40-7. Un resultado que tomó a todos por sorpresa demostró la mejor cara en el año de este equipo que apenas tiene un récord de 3-3.

Por más dominantes que se vieron en el emparrillado el domingo pasado, esa actuación no termina de reflejar lo que realmente son los Cowboys. Son un equipo con potencial en la ofensiva y con una defensiva bastante fuerte, pero ¿pueden ganar constantemente como lo hicieron contra Jaguars?

De entrada, la respuesta a esta pregunta parece ser no. Aún en esa victoria, se vieron problemas evidentes en la ofensiva. Para empezar, la falta de ejecución en la segunda mitad en series ofensivas que incluso llegaron a iniciar en territorio enemigo. De gol de campo en gol de campo se juntan puntos, sin duda, pero en partidos cerrados eso termina costando victorias. Hace falta que Dak Prescott y compañía puedan mover el balón una vez en rango de gol de campo y convertir esas oportunidades a touchdowns.

Otra preocupación que no podemos subestimar es que el juego aéreo sigue sin funcionar apropiadamente. Cole Beasley dominó con nueve atrapadas para 101 yardas y dos touchdowns, pero el resto de los receptores se fueron sin  más de una recepción por cabeza. El único jugador que logró más de una fue el TE Geoff Swaim, quien se llevo dos en todo el juego.

Si bien Beasley tuvo uno de los mejores juegos en su carrera, más receptores tienen que involucrarse para llevar la ofensiva al siguiente nivel. La buena noticia es que en esta ocasión se enfrentaron contra una de las mejores secundarias en la NFL. Los números son malos, pero tienen la oportunidad de demostrar mucho más contra otras defensivas.

Los Dallas Cowboys tienen que repartir más la bola y seguir buscando maneras creativas de utilizar a su RB Ezekiel Elliott. Pases pantallas en tercera y largo no es ser creativo. Lo vemos funcionar dos o tres veces al año pero mandan esta jugada semanalmente. En cuanto a Dak Prescott, hay mucho donde mejorar. Deberíamos estar viendo pases más arriesgados, al centro del campo y mucho mejor posicionados.

Sean's Scout: Measuring Randy Gregory's Potential Impact on Cowboys Defense

Para la defensiva, las cosas se ven muy bien. Puede que veamos la mejor versión de esta unidad esta semana, cuando viajen a Washington. Maliek Collins, Sean Lee, David Irving, y Randy Gregory estarán jugando mucho más sanos y preparados. Este es un frente defensivo lleno de talento que intimidará constantemente a Alex Smith este domingo.

A pesar de que los Redskins no tienen una ofensiva muy explosiva, el área de oportunidad principal para la defensiva de Cowboys está en la profundidad defensiva. Tanto Jeff Heath como Xavier Woods han hecho un trabajo decente, pero tienen sus momentos en los que no logran asegurar una tackleada y permiten jugadas largas.

Hace unos meses no esperábamos que fuera la defensiva y no la ofensiva la que cargaría a este equipo a muchas victorias, pero ese ha sido el caso en las tres victorias de esta temporada. Y en las tres derrotas, la defensiva fue la que mantuvo a los Cowboys en el juego.

Sin duda alguna, lo que tiene que mejorar es la ofensiva. Los receptores tienen que desmarcarse, Prescott debe ser más preciso y tener una mejor conciencia en la bolsa de protección.

Pero sobre todo, es la inconsistencia del equipo. Esto se comienza a sentir como la temporada del año pasado, cuando los Cowboys se fueron 9-7 y nunca terminaron de establecerse como contendientes a los playoffs. Aún en una NFC East donde todos los equipos tienen récords similares y débiles, no pueden continuar perdiendo una semana y  ganando a la otra.

Ganarle a los Redskins sería la primera victoria de Dallas jugando de visita. También sería la primera vez en el año en la que tendrían victorias consecutivas. Por esto y muchas otras razones, incluyendo el potencial liderato de la división, este juego es de suma importancia.

Si ganan, podría ser el momento en el que los Cowboys terminen de darle la vuelta a la página y si pierden, podría ser un indicador de que esta temporada será igual que la del 2017.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: ¿Dónde Tiene Que Mejorar Dallas?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

Brian Martin



Time to get FB Jamize Olawale More Involved Offensively?

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off arguably their best and most complete offensive performance of the season after playing the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but there is still quite a bit of improvement that can be made. The need to get more playmakers involved is apparent, which is why I think it's time to utilize Fullback Jamize Olawale's unique skill set.

I know many of you will argue that getting Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup going is a higher priority, and you wouldn't be wrong, but Jamize Olawale's playmaking ability could be a huge asset for Quarterback Dak Prescott and the offense. I know it sounds a little strange, but hang in there with me for little bit.

As things stand right now, Olawale has only played 38 offensive snaps (10%) in 2018. That's the exact amount of offensive plays Wide Receiver Terrance Williams has played this year and he's missed the majority of the season. It's not exactly the kind of production I was expecting when the Cowboys decided to bring him aboard via trade with the Oakland Raiders earlier this offseason.

I don't know about you, but I was expecting Olawale to be more involved in the offensive game plan. He is an excellent receiver out of the backfield and isn't too shabby as a runner either. But, we haven't seen him utilized in either fashion this season and I think that's an injustice that needs to be corrected.

Now, I fully understand there are other offensive weapons ahead of him in the pecking order who need to see more targets, but I also really think he can make a difference maker, especially in the passing game. That is where his strengths lie, not as a lead blocking fullback.

Jamize Olawale

Dallas Cowboys FB Jamize Olawale

Olawale was a bit of a Swiss Army knife during his time with the Oakland Raiders. He played a little running back, fullback, tight end, and even a little slot receiver. I really thought the Cowboys would take advantage of his versatility in the passing game, but as of yet they have failed to do so.

I'd like to see the Dallas Cowboys and Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan utilize Jamize Olawale's unique playmaking ability a little bit more on offense. I think they should try to utilize him like the San Francisco 49ers use their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk. He's much more involved and has played a total of 263 offensive snaps (63.68%) this year.

Juszczyk is a better lead blocking FB then Olawale, but that's not where he makes the most difference in the 49ers offense. He does it as a receiver and has already caught 17 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown. That's some pretty solid production from a position that is being phased out in the NFL.

Now, just imagine the Cowboys offense getting similar production from Olawale and how that would help open up things for everybody else. It's not out of the realm of possibility because the 49ers offense and the Cowboys isn't all that dissimilar.

Unfortunately, I think Jamize Olawale is pretty much an afterthought in the Cowboys offense right now. It's truly unfortunate because I think he can be a difference maker if given the opportunity. And with a division foe like the Washington Redskins next on the schedule, what better time to unleash a new and unseen element of the offense?

Do you think Jamize Olawale needs to be more involved offensively?

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