The waiting game continues to see what kind of role Jason Witten will ultimately play with the Cowboys, but according to a team insider, the tight end will not be on the limited snap count that was previously reported.
Back when Witten announced he was making a comeback, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Witten and the team agreed that he would play 25 snaps a game in an effort not to hinder the young tight ends on the roster from developing.
That has appeared not to be the case this offseason.
The Athletic’s Calvin Watkins wrote this week that Witten has dismissed the notion of playing between 20-25 snaps per game. Watkins estimated that it would be closer to 40-45, with Witten jumping in when the Cowboys are looking for a quicker pace.
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The future Hall of Fame tight end has certainly made the case that he’s closer to his old self than previously anticipated, and the year off could have actually done wonders for his body.
“It’s been great. Wit loves ball, loves being apart of a team. He’s jumped right back in, he’s so highly respected by our coaches and by his teammates and staff members around here,” head coach Jason Garrett said at minicamp. “He just comes to work, he comes to work and he’s very committed to getting himself right physically, mentally and emotionally right to play and you see that every day in his work and it’s a real treat to have him back.”
Witten has reportedly been working almost exclusively with the team’s top unit and impressed with a pair of nice grabs during minicamp. However, Witten — now 37 years old — is being realistic. After his year away in the Monday Night Football booth, he will have to get adjusted to the speed of the game and how he can contribute.
“I still have a lot of work to do, to clean up and knock some of that rust off. These next five or six weeks will be really important for me for what I want to accomplish and what I can bring. I know that it’s still building for me,” Witten told the Dallas Morning News. “When you come back the way I am, it’s important to kind of smell the roses from the standpoint of enjoy all that goes into that. A big part of that is focused on goals and what you want to accomplish.”
The one-game suspension of fellow TE Rico Gathers will space out the depth chart at least for one game. But the team could very well end up cutting the basketball-player-turned-footballer, who was already on the bubble to begin with. He has just three catches with the team since being drafted in 2016.
Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are the other tight ends on the roster. Jarwin was the top tight end receiver last year, hauling in 27 balls for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Dalton had 12 catches for 116 yards.
Witten is not too worried right now on how things might play out. He’s already one of the greatest tight ends of all time with 12,448 and 68 touchdowns.
“My job is to make it tough on them,” Witten said of his role. “We all benefit if that’s the case.”