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How James Hanna’s Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense

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How James Hanna’s Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense

Dallas Cowboys tight end James Hanna is eligible to return against the Philadelphia Eagles at home on October 30th. The team will be off this Sunday for their bye week, and then they will have a decision to make on Hanna.

If the blocking-specialist tight end is ready to practice and play, he can begin working his way back into Scott Linehan’s offense. If not, Hanna will have until the end of Week 11 to begin practicing before being forced to the injured reserve. Once practicing, the Cowboys will have three weeks to activate Hanna, or he will again have to be placed on the injured reserve list or released.


Hanna was signed to a new three year deal this off season, so not only is his status on the Cowboys safe, but the element he brings to this offense will be welcomed. Shining in 2014 as part of Dallas’ rushing attack, led by DeMarco Murray, Hanna was found consistently steering defenders off the edge to allow Murray to turn the corner.

Emerging at the tight end position to help in this aspect with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott has been second-year player Geoff Swaim. While Swaim is not nearly the blocker that Hanna is, he has helped with the Cowboys’ versatility on offense as a more complete tight end. I expect Swaim to still find snaps when Hanna does return to the field along with Jason Witten.

Another tight end could be on his way out in Dallas though. A roster spot would need to be cleared to bring in Hanna, and moving on from Gavin Escobar in his final season under contract makes the most sense. Escobar has never fit in offensively with the Cowboys, but did bounce back from a late 2015 Achilles tear to show flashes in training camp – ahead of schedule with his rehab.

Even still, the athletic former second round pick has not caught a pass all season for the Cowboys. Moving on from him will merely be an admission that his draft pick was wasted, and the Cowboys can then move on with the best possible depth chart at tight end.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Ezekiel Elliott: “I have yet to show the dominance at the second level…Once that starts happening, it’s going to be kind of scary.

The Cowboys running game has fueled their success once again in 2016, and the hungry rookie in Ezekiel Elliott still sees room for improvement. With James Hanna back on the field as one of his blockers, Elliott will get to the second level even easier and with more speed, allowing him to continue to eat opposing defenses.

Inside The Star will keep you updated on Hanna’s practice status along with any roster moves that occur in eventually activating him.

What are you expecting from James Hanna when he is back on the field? Let us know! Comment below with your thoughts, or email me at!

Tell us what you think about “How James Hanna’s Return Could Impact the Cowboys Offense” in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Pleasant NJ, no we're not how you think we are. Host of "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. You may @ me: @SeanMartinNFL.

  • Jess Haynie

    I disagree that Swaim is a “more complete” tight end than Hanna. We’ve seen that Hanna can be a good receiver in the past. He’s just been stuck behind the failed Gavin Escobar project.

    • Sean Martin

      Swaim looks more comfortable as a route-runner, has a better down field element in the passing game. Can only remember Hanna getting check down throws that were wide open after Romo bought time in the pocket. Those are still valuable, but it doesn’t make him that complete player that Swaim could be.

  • M. Dion Douglas

    James Hanna just hasn’t had the donwfield opportunities that have been afforded Swam. He is one of the fastest players on the teamand came out of OU as a receiving TE.
    It is his meteoric rise as a blocker that has limited his receiving role.

    • Sean Martin

      Swaim is just the better receiving option right now. They’ll find a way to keep him on the field some. But you’re spot on when it comes to Hanna’s value as a blocker, and with this team built around the run, he is going to have a much more important role than Swaim. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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