Jalen Tolbert is already putting a rough rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys behind him.
The second-year pass-catcher has been “making waves” at OTAs as he battles for his spot on the depth chart, per Patrik Walker of the Cowboys’ official site.
“Jalen Tolbert is already making some waves in the war for WR4, and that’s a good sign that he’s mentally ready to challenge who appears to be the frontrunner at the moment: Simi Fehoko,” Walker wrote in his recap of OTAs.
Tolbert was a third-round pick last season and came in with significant expectations. The Cowboys were hoping he could be an immediate producer and help fill the void left by the departures of Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson. That never played out, with Tolbert struggling to adapt to the speed and complexities of the NFL game. He appeared in just eight games, catching two passes for 12 yards.
Tolbert is ready to leave that disappointment in the past as he looks to earn the trust as a reliable target for quarter Dak Prescott.
“I’m excited to turn the page,” Tolbert said. “Obviously OTA’s, going to training camp and continue to improve. I’m looking forward to it. It can’t come fast enough. Right now just being able to put a helmet on and run routes and compete to a certain extent, it’s fun.”
Jalen Tolbert Credits Brandin Cooks for Turnaround
There was some scuttlebutt this offseason that the Cowboys could pull the plug and move on from Tolbert after the acquisition of Brandin Cooks. But Cooks landing in Dallas has helped Tolbert progress as a player, with the well-traveled veteran taking him under his wing.
“He’s been a big part of the offseason for me,” Tolbert said. “We go eat, talk ball, we work out together, all the little things. He’s been in the league for a while, and he’s had six 1,000-yard seasons. We talk, and he sees in me what I see as well, and he told me ‘I’m gonna look out for you.’
“I’m so excited to go with him and learn more about the stuff he sees. Having guys like that, that I’ve never had before in my football career, is positive and big for me, and I’m gonna continue to grow off that.”
Tolbert had a couple of monster years at South Alabama. He finished his time in college with 178 catches for 3,140 yards and 22 touchdowns.
CeeDee Lamb Lauds Jalen Tolbert for Growth
Tolbert’s growth has caught the attention of the Cowboys’ top pass-catcher CeeDee Lamb, who complimented him on his progress.
“Oh, he’s gotten better,” Lamb said. “His route-running, his ability to catch in traffic, his confidence is growing, you can see it. Day by day, as we go, he’s continually asking questions, he’s staying late after meetings. You can tell the determination is there.”
The Cowboys have their top three receivers set with Lamb, Cooks and Michael Gallup. Tolbert being able to chip in would be a nice bonus but he’ll have to fight off Fehoko for the spot. The former fifth-round pick is coming off an injury and has just four catches for 24 yards in his career.