Gavin Escobar gives Cowboys another option to deploy

Posted Sunday, May. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Gavin Escobar, one of the best receiving tight ends in college football the past two seasons, joins Jason Witten and James Hanna in the Dallas Cowboys’ tight ends room. All Witten did was set the single-season record for receptions by a tight end in league history.

So are there enough balls to go around?

“I’m just ready to have them in the game if they call their number,” said Wes Phillips, in his first season as the team’s tight ends coach. “I would imagine taking a young guy who is talented [like Escobar] and having James Hanna along to complement Witten, we can get into some different packages in 12 [one running back, two tight ends]. Each of those guys can play to their strengths.”

The Cowboys could use two tight ends more this season. Dallas didn’t use the formation much last season with John Phillips as its second tight end, running only 195 plays with its 12 personnel. The Cowboys threw 74 times with two tight ends in the game, took one sack and rushed the ball 120 times.

In 2011, with Martellus Bennett as their second tight end, the Cowboys used two tight ends for 320 plays, rushing 225 times, taking six sacks and throwing 89 times.

The Cowboys believe Escobar is a better offensive weapon than Bennett or Phillips.

“We used some resources to draft him,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “We used a second-round pick, so we think a lot of him, and we want to give him every opportunity to acclimate him to our offensive system.

“What we have to do as coaches is decide who our best 11 guys are, what our best personnel groups are and try to shape our offense accordingly. You know we’ve used a lot of two tight end offense in the past. … So we want to keep attacking defenses a lot of different ways. We’ll do it with different personnel groups and with different guys within those personnel groups.”

Coale rehabbing

Danny Coale hasn’t been healthy since this time last year. The former Virginia Tech receiver broke his left foot in the Cowboys’ first organized team activity. Then, he pulled his hamstring and strained his quad after making the practice squad. He went on injured reserve in late November after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Dr. Dan Cooper performed reconstructive surgery on Coale on Dec. 11.

“It was a learning year,” Coale said. “I didn’t have any injuries at Virginia Tech. I think the most frustrating part is you’ve never been that guy who’s been hurt constantly. I’ve never been that person, so to have year like this, it was tough. It teaches a lot about yourself and slows you down a little bit and causes you to appreciate things a little bit more. But it’s part of the game. If you play the game a long enough time, at some point you’re going to have some injuries.”

Coale is running routes in the voluntary practices, but he will have limited participation in the team’s OTAs that begin next week. He expects to be fully cleared for the start of training camp.

Coale now is the forgotten receiver in the battle to make the roster. The Cowboys drafted Terrance Williams in the third round; rookie free agent Cole Beasley made the 53-player roster last season and caught 15 passes for 128 yards in getting a jump on Coale; and Dwayne Harris came on late in the season and finished with 17 receptions for 222 yards and a touchdown. So Coale has some catching up to do if he is to stick with the Cowboys for 2013.

“I think right now, the thing I’ve been focusing on is what I can control, and that’s my rehab,” Coale said. “Does that get better every day? Does it get better every week? It has to this point. I’m going to focus on that, and we’ll worry about the receiver stuff at a later point. The first thing I’ve got to focus on is getting this right.”

Charean Williams 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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