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TE Rico Gathers Believes He Could Be The Heir Apparent To Jason Witten

RJ Ochoa

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Rico Gathers

The 2017 NFL Draft is approximately one month away, and the Dallas Cowboys enter it with relatively no questions on the offensive side of the ball. Some would say that Offensive Tackle is of concern, but the recent signing of OT Byron Bell should help provide depth in that area. If you get someone to move past that and they're feeling really picky, the position of Tight End could come up. The Cowboys have future Pro Football Hall of Famer Jason Witten manning it currently, and they could have the NFL's next great star as well in Rico Gathers.

Rico Gathers

Could the Dallas Cowboys really already have the heir to Jason Witten on their team in Rico Gathers? Rico sure thinks so.

This, the tail end of March, is a time of year that Rico Gathers is quite familiar with. It was this time last year - March 17th, 2016 to be precise - that we last saw Rico Gathers in competitive action, during the annual NCAA Tournament. You see on that day Rico Gathers was playing Forward for the Baylor Bears basketball team, unfortunately in a losing effort to Yale (Rico scored six points and logged 16 minutes).

The story of Rico Gathers is well-known by Cowboys Nation at this point. He didn't play a lick of high school or college football, but he was a menacing player inside the paint on the hardwood. It's the frame that comes with that type of prowess, 6'6" and 281 pounds, that NFL teams find appealing in a potential tight end. We've obviously seen many great tight ends in the game of football that also have basketball experience: Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and most recently Jimmy Graham.


"This year is the year to come out and take over and show Rico Gathers is the heir apparent to Jason Witten. That’s how I feel, honestly." Gathers told ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor

During an interview with ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor, Gathers elaborated on his position with the Dallas Cowboys. America's Team coveted him so much - despite no football experience - that they used a 6th Round selection on him in 2016's NFL Draft. Rico's rookie classmates Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Maliek Collins, and Anthony Brown all went on to have phenomenal first years in the pros... so much so that many Cowboys fans are claiming this is the greatest draft class in franchise history (shout out to the Dirty Dozen).

Rico Gathers

Rico Gathers' basketball skills could translate over to the NFL in the same way that they did for Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and Jimmy Graham.

Rico Gathers is obviously anxious to contribute to the team, and there's certainly an opportunity for him to do so. Jason Witten flirted with the idea of retirement after the 2016 season ended, so the Cowboys need to be prepared for that phenomenal ride to finally end. Beyond "Gold Jacket Witt" Dallas doesn't really have much. There's James Hanna - who's coming off of a serious knee injury - and Geoff Swaim, who has an injury of his own that will sideline him until Training Camp.

“I feel like this could be my breakout year and I can really contribute to this offense in the right situation. When I first jumped out there and let people know I wanted to play football, it was all a thought, but a thought without work is just a thought. Once I started working on my craft as a football player, that’s when everything started coming together.” Gathers told ESPN's Jean-Jacques Taylor

There is already expectation for the 2016 Dallas Cowboys Draft Class to get even better with the addition of 2nd Round pick Jaylon Smith on the defensive side of the ball. If Rico Gathers can not just contribute to that, but be the heir to Jason Witten in the process... my oh my. The Dallas Cowboys could have conceivably replaced Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray (to a degree), and Jason Witten all in one draft... with room to spare. Can you believe that Dez Bryant is now the old man in the room?!

Tell us what you think about "TE Rico Gathers Believes He Could Be The Heir Apparent To Jason Witten" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!


I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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Game Notes

Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Rookie Report: Which Cowboys Draft Picks Stood Out Against the 49ers?

In the NFL, the third preseason week is often referred to as the "Dress Rehearsal." It's usually the week in which starters get the most playing time. That has changed lately, with plenty of teams deciding to take care of their key players instead of risking them on the field. However, the Dallas Cowboys have played their starters on their first two games and there's no reason to believe that will change versus the Texans today.

Here is my wishlist for the Cowboys vs Texans "Dress Rehearsal!" Let me know what your wishes for tonight's game are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!

Wish #1: Justin Phillips Locks Up a Roster Spot

Phillips has been one of the most surprising players this offseason and preseason. The Cowboys are set at linebacker, but Phillips has made sure to be a tough guy to cut. Last week, he had a remarkable interception against the Rams. Despite making a first step toward the line, he managed to adjust and made the play. He has followed it up with more plays in practice.

If he keeps it up, the Cowboys won't be able to cut him. He has the potential to be a force on special teams and a quality backup.

Can WR Devin Smith Sneak Onto the Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster?

Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Smith (AP Photo / Josie Lepe)

Wish #2: Devin Smith Makes Things Interesting

The battle for the final wide receiver spots is at full-go. Devin Smith has shined lately, and has risen as a serious candidate to make the roster. However, it seems like other wide receivers have the upper-hand as of now. Earlier this week, I made my Cowboys WR Power Rankings and had Devin Smith at #7.


His TD catch versus the Rams last week was pretty impressive, and I wish he makes a few more plays to make the debate all the more interesting.

Wish #3: Tony Pollard Does It Again

Fifth-round rookie Tony Pollard stole was the show last weekend as he racked up 51 total yards (five carries, one catch) and a touchdown on Dallas' first offensive drive. He looked impressive as the starting running back, giving us just what we wanted to see.

While many have advertised him as a gadget player, Pollard proved he can actually be a "standard" RB. He ran between the tackles, showed power, balance and great vision. I'm ready to watch it again, this time versus the Texans.

Cowboys Need More From Randy Gregory and Taco Charlton 1

Wish #4: Taco Charlton Shines Rushing The Passer

Taco Charlton has made a couple of plays in preseason on his third year with the Dallas Cowboys. Against the Rams, he batted down two passes and looked good separating from opposing offensive linemen. Charlton has gotten praise from some analysts during these first two preseason weeks.

But I want to watch some quality pass rush from his part. Right now, the Cowboys' roster counts with some promising players, including rookies Jalen Jelks and Joe Jackson. While they're currently below Taco, he must prove he belongs on the roster.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Wishlist: Dress Rehearsal Edition" 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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Cowboys’ Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

John Williams

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Cowboys' Tight End Marcus Lucas with Huge Opportunity vs the Houston Texans

With only two preseason games remaining, opportunities to make a statement are growing thin. The Dallas Cowboys have very few spots on the roster available, especially at the tight end position where Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz appear to have the depth chart locked down. The problem is, Jarwin and Schultz have been dealing with injuries and missed the second preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams and probably won't play against the Houston Texans tonight.

Enter Marcus Lucas.

Marcus Lucas hasn't been a member of the Dallas Cowboys for very long, but he's already made an impact.

In his first preseason game with the Dallas Cowboys, Lucas caught four passes on four targets for 20 yards. His receptions went for two, seven, five, and six yards for an average of five yards per reception. He did have a holding penalty that cost the Dallas Cowboys 10 yards on a first down play that didn't go anywhere anyway.

Though Lucas has bounced around NFL practice squads, he's never really found a home. After going undrafted in 2014, Lucas was signed by the Carolina Panthers in May of that year but wasn't able to stick on the 53-man roster and was released and placed on the practice squad. In 2015, he was on the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears practice squads. In 2016, the Panthers brought him back in the summer after the Bears released him from their 90-man roster. That September after cut-down day, the Seattle Seahawks signed Lucas to their practice squad where he spent all of 2016. From 2017 to the end of 2018, Lucas spent time with the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions, the Seattle Seahawks again, and the San Francisco 49ers. He was with the 49ers in 2019 before joining the Dallas Cowboys about two weeks ago and will get an extended run in these final two preseason games.


At Thursday's practice, Lucas was the only tight end available with Jason Witten getting a rest day and Jarwin, Schultz, and fellow Tight End Cody McElroy dealing with injuries.

Todd Archer on Twitter

With Jason Witten getting a day of rest, Blake Jarwin, Dalton Schultz and Codey McElroy injured, the Cowboys have one tight end practicing today: Marcus Lucas, who has been with the team for about two weeks.

It's possible that Lucas may get an extended amount of playing time tonight with an opportunity to show the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL that he's ready to land on a 53-man roster. With likely only Jason Witten being the only other tight end active for the game against the Houston Texans, Lucas will get a lot of playing time. If his last preseason exposure is any indication, he'll get the chance to display his receiving prowess.

At 27, Lucas likely has few opportunities left to make his mark for an NFL franchise. On a team that proclaims the "next man up" as a battle cry, after Witten, Lucas is the next man up for tonight and depending on his performance could make the Dallas Cowboys front office or another front office around the league take notice.

Depending on the long-term health of the Dallas Cowboys' tight end position, Lucas may find his path to a roster spot simply dependent upon the health of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Though a job may not come with the Dallas Cowboys, tonight is an extremely important audition for his next suitor. How he performs tonight could land Marcus Lucas a job after the Dallas Cowboys trim the roster to 53 next week.

They say "preseason games don't matter," but to Marcus Lucas, this might be the most important game of his career.


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Dallas Cowboys

Don’t Forget Special Teams Value in Cowboys Roster Decisions

Jess Haynie

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C.J. Goodwin

Building a 53-man roster in the NFL is a complex formula, requiring balance between numerous positions on each side of the ball. But what often gets overlooked in our analysis as outsiders is special teams, and that's a huge factor for many of the Dallas Cowboys players hoping to make it past final cuts.

Some players have survived in the league by being just good enough at their listed positions but excelling in special teams roles. You may think of former Dallas safety Bill Bates, who was personally responsible for a special teams player being made part of the annual Pro Bowl roster. A more recent example would be Keith Davis, who was an adequate safety but a special teams ace for several seasons.

To be sure, someone is going to be on this 2019 Cowboys more for their special teams value than their actual offensive or defensive ability. Who might he, or they, be?

One candidate is veteran Cornerback C.J. Goodwin. He is considered an exceptional talent in coverage on punts, which is probably the only reason he's still in the NFL today. At age 29, Goodwin has never really emerged as a consistent contributor on defense.

Young players like Donovan Olumba or rookie Michael Jackson, if not already superior cornerbacks to Goodwin, have far more upside to keep on the roster. But

considering how little they may get on the field anyway as the fifth or sixth corners, you can see why special teams value becomes so important. It may be the only time you actually see them in the game.

If the Cowboys don't want to lose a young prospect but can't let go of Goodwin's special teams ability, it may prompt them to go long at the CB position. But that means taking a roster spot from some other position, and thus the balancing act continues.


Don't Forget About RB Jordan Chunn in the Cowboys Backfield

Dallas Cowboys RB Jordan Chunn

Another player to watch in this discussion is second-year an Running Back Jordan Chunn. He doesn't have Alfred Morris' experience or maybe Mike Weber or Darius Jackson's rushing talent, but he has been showing up on the special teams units.

Yesterday, Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus called Chunn "a better Rod Smith" in analyzing his chances of making the roster. If you don't recall, Jaylon's older brother was a solid RB but a standout special teams player in his few years with Dallas.

As we just mentioned with the 5th/6th CB slots, the third running back is not a guy you expect to see much on offense. That will be especially true this year as Dallas will be struggling just to give rookie Tony Pollard the touches he deserves as the number-two RB.

Given that, special teams play becomes vital for the value of whoever is behind Zeke and Pollard on the depth chart. If Jordan Chunn is superior to his competition in that regard, it could negate whatever he lacks as an actual running back.

This same conversation can be had throughout the roster. It's why Noah Brown might make the team over more traditionally gifted receivers, or why a certain linebacker or safety might be more valued than others.

We make the common mistake of referring to "both sides of the ball" when we talk about football teams. There are three sides; special teams can't be underestimated. It will certainly play a part in how the Dallas Cowboys finalize their 53-man roster this season and in years to come.


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