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Rising Star: Gavin Escobar Ready for a Breakout Year?

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Cowboys Blog - Rising Star: Gavin Escobar Ready for a Breakout Year?

When asked who will breakout in 2014 for the Dallas Cowboys, the first person I thought of was Gavin Escobar.

I went through some other names but eventually found myself coming back to the second year tight end from San Diego State. Many people thought it was a stretch to take him in the second round of the 2013 draft. His pedestrian numbers in 2013; 9 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns seemed to support that theory.

Going into his second year what can be expected and why on earth would I think he'll have a breakout year?

I looked at who I thought was a breakout player last year, Terrance Williams, and what I found was interesting. Terrance had 44 catches for 736 yards with 5 TD’s. Not to mention, he averaged 16.7 yards per catch. Are those numbers breakout worthy? Terrance was a rookie, nothing was expected from the projected third receiver so it was deemed breakout. As we see with most offenses, when you take away some of the weapons there will always be someone who can contribute unexpectedly.

For this reason, I think Gavin Escobar is a solid candidate for a breakout.

[su_lightbox src="http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/cowboys/post/_/id/4729836/best-caseworst-case-gavin-escobar"]Todd Archer recently looked at the best case/worst case scenario as it relates to Escobar.[/su_lightbox] Todd believes the best case scenario is 30-35 catches. If this holds true, is that a bad year? That would be 9-14 catches short of what Terrance Williams did last season when people thought he had a great year.

I believe with the addition of Zack Martin the line will be much approved. A lot to ask of a rookie, I know, but remember what Travis Frederick did as a rookie? Gavin hasn't been a good blocker, but with the upgraded line, does he need to be?

With the line improved, the two tight end sets that are frequently used may limit the use of an extra blocker which could mean more opportunities for Gavin. If Jason Witten were to go for a ten-and-in maybe Gavin goes for a five-and-out. Who knows how they will construct it but I think the possibilities for getting him the ball will increase because of the concern to keep one person in to block will diminish. My fellow writer at DallasCowboysNation.com, Michael Davis, predicts James Hanna to have a great year, but does James see the field as much if he doesn’t need to be in there for protection?

The helicopter touchdown Gavin had in the season finale against the Eagles makes me excited about the potential for this kid. Sure, it’s one play, relax you may say, but did you see the athleticism? That’s something we’ve never seen from Jason Witten, who is probably the best TE in Cowboys history. Gavin is fluid and has great hands similar to that of a receiver. If you don’t believe me, read what dallasnews.com writer David Moore wrote about him.

“Escobar has the size of a tight end. But he played receiver in high school and feels comfortable outside. The Cowboys are experimenting with him more and more outside this offseason to see what they can incorporate into the offense.”
[su_lightbox src="http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-cowboys/headlines/20140618-gavin-escobar-s-high-wire-td-vs.-eagles-was-a-glimpse-it-s-time-for-cowboys-to-see-more-of-picture.ece"]- Gavin Escobar's high-wire TD vs. Eagles was a glimpse; it's time for Cowboys to see more of picture[/su_lightbox]

I truly believe that Scott Linehan will get creative and use Gavin in spots that will make the defense have to think.

Jason Witten is still the best TE on the team and will continue to be a target but he's not a deep threat, nor is he someone who will scamper for 30 yards. Gavin has a chance to improve greatly and if he does this, by catching more than 35 balls and 5 TD’s, I think you’d have to say that the second year tight end nicknamed “Pablo” would be a lock for breakout player of the year.



I've been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan since I was 9-years-old. Born in Rochester, NY, I followed the team closely via satellite feeds and clippings from the Dallas Morning News. I attended multiple events at the Rochester, NY Dallas Cowboys Fan Club. I moved to Dallas in 2002 and quickly bought season tickets to the team I love. My favorite player of all-time is Emmitt Smith, followed by Tony Dorsett and I currently reside in The Colony, TX with my wife and three children.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Training Camp Preview: Tight End

Jess Haynie

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Jason Witten
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The shocking return of Jason Witten is a feelgood story for the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, but will it really mean on the field? How will Witten's big presence impact the tight end position during the upcoming training camp and beyond?

Before we ever knew Jason would come back from retirement, Blake Jarwin was stirring up excitement as the new starting TE this year. His huge three-touchdown game in Week 17 last year, while an extreme example, showed the kind of receiving threat he might be going forward.

Still, before Witten announce his return to football, some wanted the Cowboys to invest more in the position. Whether it came in the form of a veteran free agent like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert, or a high draft pick, there was the thought that Dallas needed to guard themselves against Jarwin being a flash in the pan.

But once we heard that Jason was back, we knew that there wouldn't be any big moves at TE this offseason. The Cowboys are hoping that some combination of Witten's actual return to the field, or his mentoring of their young prospects, will elevate the position from last year.

Here is our projected TE depth chart for the 2019 training camp:

  1. Jason Witten
  2. Blake Jarwin
  3. Dalton Schultz
  4. Rico Gathers
  5. Codey McElroy

While Jarwin may wind up having the most snaps and targets of any TE this season, it's a safe bet that Witten will get some deference as a Cowboys legend. That's why we're making him the starter right now, even with a year away.

The balancing between Blake and Jason as the top two will be something we watch all season. Not only does it impact the 2019 offense, but we want to know if Dallas has a TE of the future in house or will need to make a big move next year to solidify the position.

Dalton Schultz

Dallas Cowboys TE Dalton Schultz

2018 4th-round pick Dalton Schultz may have something to say about the presumed top two. If he's made some strides in his sophomore season, Schultz could force a full-blown committee approach at tight end.

From a financial standpoint, Dallas would love for Schultz to take over the position in 2020.  He is signed through 2021 on a cheap rookie contract, while Jarwin will be a restricted free agent next year.

Predicting who emerges between Jarwin and Schultz is hard to say, but what isn't hard to imagine is that these may be Rico Gathers' last few weeks as a Cowboy.

Now entering his fourth season, the basketball-to-football transformation project has not been able to break through. He has expressed frustration with the TE depth chart during the offseason, and a one-game suspension to start 2019 isn't going to help matters.

Dallas may just be keeping three tight ends this year. They have WR Noah Brown and FB Jamize Olawale who are built to do play like smallish TEs. If they only keep three, it won't matter how much Rico has progressed.

If the Cowboys go with four tight ends that last guy may not be Gathers. They signed prospect Codey McElroy this offseason, who spent last year as an undrafted rookie with the Rams. McElroy may be their new developmental project.

Dallas' 2019 camp will offer plenty of new insights into the TE position. How do they split the workload between Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz? Can Rico Gathers do anything to fight his way into the conversation, or will he lose his spot to Codey McElroy?

We look forward to getting some more answers in the coming weeks.

~ ~ ~

OTHER 2019 CAMP PREVIEWS



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Guillain-Barre Syndrome: Travis Frederick’s Health Still a Concern?

Brian Martin

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Concerns About Travis Frederick's Health Still Justifiable
George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It's been nearly a year since Dallas Cowboys Center Travis Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease. And although all signs are pointing towards him making a full recovery and regaining his starting job, there are still some lingering concerns about his health.

Travis Frederick didn't miss a start in his previous five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys before being diagnosed with GBS. He was an Ironman and was the anchor for the Cowboys talented offensive line. But battling injuries and an autoimmune disease in which there is a lot of unknown about still are two different animals. It's the unknown here that still carries some concern.

What is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

According to the Mayo Clinic, Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) occurs when the body mistakenly attacks its own nerves, specifically the peripheral nervous system, which connects the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. This can result in a wide range the nerve-related symptoms, including tingling, prickling, or pins and needles sensations; muscle weakness; difficulty walking, talking, chewing, or swallowing; pain; and, in severe cases paralysis, which can become life-threatening if breathing is affected.

As with many autoimmune diseases, experts don't fully understand what causes GBS. There is still a lot of unknown about this disease, and that includes how to treat it and recover from it. However, when diagnosed early, like in Frederick's case, the chances of stabilizing sooner rather than later are pretty good. Although, the recovery process can be a slow one, anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome Cure and Recovery Time?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for GBS at this current time. There are a couple of treatments which has shown some success, although patients respond differently which makes determining a person's recovery time nearly impossible.

According to the Mayo Clinic, most people recover within 6 to 12 months. However, about 30% of people still experience lingering weakness three years after a diagnosis, reports the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and about 15% continue to have weakness long after that. Hence, the lingering concern about Travis Frederick and his future health.

Travis Frederick's Optimism

Despite all the unknown with GBS and how it's affected Travis Frederick's life, he sounds pretty optimistic his health is trending in the right direction.

"I feel really good about where I am at. Both in recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome and the offseason surgeries that I had done. We are just starting to get to the end of the shoulder rehab. That will start to free up a little bit of my activities. But as far as (Guillain-Barre syndrome) goes, I feel really, really good. It's gonna be hard to tell whether I'm back exactly 100 percent until I can go against another player at full speed in full pads. I don't think we're actually going to know until training camp. But all signs are currently pointing to really good things."

As if we didn't already have enough to keep an eye on once the Dallas Cowboys start training, Travis Frederick certainly jumps to the top of the list. How he is able to respond in some "live-action" practices should help determine where he's at healthwise. Hopefully for his sake, and the sake of the Cowboys, he's back to 100% or as close to it as possible.

Are you concerned about Travis Frederick's health heading into 2019?



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Report: Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott Planning Training Camp Holdout?

John Williams

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Ezekiel Elliott: NFL's History with Domestic Violence Shows Inconsistency, Hypocrisy 2

All offseason, the possibility of a new contract for Dallas Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott has been a hot button issue among media and fans alike. Not because Ezekiel Elliott isn't a great player and worthy of top running back money, but because the idea of paying running backs north of $15 million a year isn't as simple as, "Is he worth it?"

There is significant evidence that the running back position experiences a significant decline in production around their age 28 season and few running backs play into their 30's with good to elite production. Ezekiel Elliott, though he's experienced heavy usage in his first three seasons, could be the exception to the rule.

Well, knowing his worth to the Dallas Cowboys he's expecting a heavy payday at some point in the next couple of seasons. Elliott is under contract through 2019 and the Cowboys picked up his rookie option for 2020. So, technically, Elliott wouldn't be a free agent until the 2021 offseason. However, much like in the case of Todd Gurley, Elliott's looking to get paid early to maximize his prime years as the Dallas Cowboys running back.

Within the last hour, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk released a report that Ezekiel Elliott is planning on holding out of training camp if he doesn't receive a new contract, per a "league source." It should be noted that Mike Florio has had some missteps in his reporting of Dallas Cowboys news, most notably the perpetuating a rumor that Dez Bryant was caught on videotape doing something at a Wal-Mart, that would have a "Ray Rice type of impact." A tape that has never been discovered or produced and a story that's completely died off since it was originally reported in 2015.

Given the recent news that Melvin Gordon is planning a training camp hold out, it should come as no surprise that Elliott is being mentioned similarly. ESPN even mentioned the idea of Elliott and a looming contractual holdout in a piece earlier today, but their prediction pointed to 2021 and wasn't a report based on fact or a source, but a prediction for next year.

The two-time NFL rushing champ is scheduled to count $7.9 million in 2019 and just over $9 million in 2020 against the salary cap. His salary for 2019 is only $3.8 million. Elliott certainly has earned the right to be paid like Todd Gurley ($14.37 million per year), Le'Veon Bell ($13.13 million per year), and David Johnson ($13 million per year) despite having two more years on his deal.

In looking at the long-term impact of Elliott's contract, I've advocated that if the Dallas Cowboys intend to pay Elliott, now's the time to do it. A contract extension now, that adds three or four more years onto his existing deal would get Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys to his age 28 or 29 season. In a well-structured contract, they'd have opportunities to get out at the back end if Elliott experienced a significant decline in production.

Ezekiel Elliott's contract is going to continue to be a hot button issue until he's either signed to an extension or it's made known that the Dallas Cowboys have no intention of extending him. Currently, there aren't any other sources confirming Elliott's plan to hold out of training camp, which starts July 27th, but it's a story that we'll continue to follow here on InsideTheStar.com.

Update: 7/16/2019 10:42 am.

Charles Robinson, Senior Reporter for Yahoo! Sports provided some insight into the thinking of Elliott and his representation.

It certainly seems like holding out is on the table for Ezekiel Elliott and his representation, but no decision has been made at this point.

Check back with us for updates on Ezekiel Elliott's contract extension. 



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