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Who is Cowboys TE Rico Gathers patterning his game after? Gates? Graham? Or Gronk?

“Yeah. It was disappointing last year. He really made some strides in training camp and then he missed all that time. He’s such a young player. Every opportunity he gets is a real chance for him to grow in every aspect of his game. I just think over the last couple days you see him, he’s more and more confident, I think some of the words are making sense to him allowing him to go play fast. I use this as an image but with a lot of young players, you see smoke coming out of their ears. He’s had that look to him in the past, not sure what he does when a guy lines up here, there or over there when the ball is snapped. I think being around it more, having more reps, continuing his preparation mentally allows him to play fast, and you start to see his athletic ability.”Since former Baylor standout Rico Gathers made the switch from basketball in college to football in the NFL as a tight end with the Dallas Cowboys, he has been compared to other basketball-to-football transplants like Antonio Gates of the San Diego Chargers and Jimmy Graham of the Green Bay Packers .

And Gathers initially studied their film. But both made their mark as finesse pass catchers.

As the lumbering Gathers grows and develops in his continued adjustment to the game, he has had to try to find his own place. The player whose style he believes he compares to most it New England Patriots all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Now Gathers has a long way to go make the Cowboys roster in what his third year, let alone be listed in the same sentence with Growkowski.

But his Gronkowski-like imposing size and strength at 6-foot-6, 282 pounds can’t be denied.

“I feel me and Gronkowski have the same type of run style and play style,” Gathers said. “I am a physical guy. That is one of the biggest attributes I have is using that physical size and being a tough guy.”

You can’t coach size and that is one of the advantages that Gathers has and why he continues to garner a lot of interest and intrigue.

The key for him is becoming a more natural and instinctive football player. He hadn’t played football since the eighth grade before picking the game up again in 2016.

And then he was set back 2017 after suffering a concussion in training camp and then spending the entire season on injured reserve.

He said he is working hard, especially as a blocker where he has struggled the most.

“It’s been tough but once you hone in on what you are here to do and start focusing on the little things that come with playing the position it really makes it easy,” Gathers said. “The more you work at it

The more are comfortable with it. The more it becomes fun because you see the progress that you are making. I’ve grown as a blocker. No one is going to be perfect. I am focused on the fundamental and technique part.”

Said coach Jason Garrett: “Yeah. It was disappointing last year. He really made some strides in training camp and then he missed all that time. He’s such a young player. Every opportunity he gets is a real chance for him to grow in every aspect of his game. I just think over the last couple days you see him, he’s more and more confident, I think some of the words are making sense to him allowing him to go play fast. I use this as an image but with a lot of young players, you see smoke coming out of their ears. He’s had that look to him in the past, not sure what he does when a guy lines up here, there or over there when the ball is snapped. I think being around it more, having more reps, continuing his preparation mentally allows him to play fast, and you start to see his athletic ability.”

Gathers is still running fourth at tight end behind Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz as he still trails them in learning the nuances of the game as far as blocking, route running and the playbook.

But also safe to say he has the biggest upside because of his size and potential growth as the position.

Still, he remains a work in progress. The Cowboys had to re-do a play in the walk-through Sunday morning after Gathers busted an assignment. Those are fewer and fewer as well.

“Yeah, yeah. He’s making fewer and fewer mistakes just like all the younger players,” Garrett said. “Again, it’s a tribute to the experience they’re getting. That’s why we try to take advantage of every opportunity we get. That’s a serious walk through we do out there.”

Dallas Cowboys compete drills test the strength and technique of the big offense and defense players at training camp in Oxnard, CA.

Clarence E. Hill Jr. :@clarencehilljr
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