Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten continues to amaze in his return to Cowboys: ‘He hasn’t lost a step’

Let the Cowboys tell it, tight end Jason Witten is the modern day Benjamin Button.

How else do you explain him allegedly being faster and in better shape now in his return to football than he was before he retired following the 2017 season, spending last year working as an analyst for ESPN.

Keep in mind that Witten had 63 catches for 560 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. Although he has played all 16 games a season from 2004-2017, the Cowboys plan to be smart with how they use him, which will mean limiting his snaps. They are keeping him out of a third of OTA practices and will likely continue that pattern in training camp.

And even though Witten looks great, maximizing his production by being smart about his usage remains the plan as he is expected to share time with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. But plans can change, especially with him looking and acting younger at 37 than he did at 35.

What’s certain is Witten hasn’t lost the work ethic and unyielding attitude that allowed him to become the Cowboys all-time leading receiver and a lock to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Yeah, absolutely. He’s been excited about every part of it ever since I met him and that hasn’t changed,” coach Jason Garrett said. “The work that he’s done in the weight room in the off-season program has been outstanding. His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”

But is he really the same or better after a year off?

“Yeah I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it, to be honest,” Garrett said. “You don’t see many players walking away and coming back. And for him to come back and just be in the shape that he’s been in says a lot about who he is and what he’s been able to accomplish over the course of his career.”

Quarterback Dak Prescott echoed Garrett and said he’s on to Witten’s scheme.

“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” Prescott said. “He hasn’t lost a step.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.