With so much uncertainty revolving the tight end position for the Cowboys, Rico Gathers is aware that now is the time to step up.
The Baylor Bears men’s basketball all-time leading rebounder is entering his third year with the Cowboys and the reality of the situation appears to be clearer than ever.
“When Jason Witten decided that he was going to retire that was like the light bulb in my head saying ‘hey your time is here, it’s right in front of you and you gotta go out there and you gotta take it,” said Gathers.
The Cowboys recognize that filling the void Witten left is not a simple task. The versatility that is expected for the role requires Gathers to be much more that just a pass-catcher and with the additions of Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz to the depth chart, Gathers may be running out of time to prove his value on the roster.
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One of the strategies the 24-year-old is taking on this year is working out with wide receiver skills coach David Robinson, who Gathers feels is preparing him well.
“Really just redefining my route running,” said Gathers when asked how he’s benefiting from training with Robinson. “Really focusing on the key aspects of it: Dropping low at the top of my routes, getting out, using my arms to sprint out of breaks. He’s always been good for me especially heading into training camp.”
Arguably the biggest concern with Gathers has been his ability to block on the line.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a whole lot better over the course of OTAs and mini camp with the blocking assignments they’ve let me rep out in practice,” said Gathers. “Really, just understanding what they truly want. I never felt like I was a horrific blocker in the first place, I just think I do it a little differently than what they’re used to.”
Geoff Swaim included, the Cowboys currently have four tightends on the roster, but the likelihood of that number decreasing becomes more realistic by the week. While it remains unclear what the Cowboys plan to do with the starting tightend position, Gathers has made it known that he is ready to play this season, whether it be for the Cowboys or another team, although leaving the Cowboys is not an option he is necessarily exploring at the moment.
“I really feel like with the right opportunity and with the right belief in me, I believe I can showcase what God has blessed me to do— and that’s really to go out there and use my size and athleticism and go out there and execute when my opportunities come.”
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