Cowboys Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Jason Witten, in his first six seasons in the league, has established himself as one of the best tight ends in the league. With his fifth Pro Bowl appearance last February, Witten tied Cowboys legend Jay Novacek; the year before, he set a team-record for receptions by a tight end with 96. He is only one of three tight ends to ever record that many catches in a season.
 
Dallas is well off at the tight end position. And it’s not just because of Witten.
 

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Martellus Bennett shed some early concerns with respect to his maturity last season, recording 20 catches and four touchdowns, good enough to put him in the top five rookies in that department.
 
Bennett, reportedly, has continued to mature through the offseason, working hard on technique; this could lead to a huge year for the 22 year-old, who is bigger and faster than Witten.
 
The two will share the field quite a bit in 2009 as Dallas will use Bennett (as Jerry Jones said on draft day) not as a backup in the traditional sense, but to add a “new dimension to the offense.” This experiment commenced to a limited degree last year, and will continue en force in 2009.
 
With Witten and Bennett serving primarily as receivers, the third tight end spot will likely go to either Scott Chandler -- selected in the fourth round by the Chargers in 2007 -- or John Phillips, Dallas’ sixth round pick out of Virginia.
 
Chandler was waived by San Diego in April, and signed by Dallas in May.
 
While less experienced than Chandler, Phillips seems to have a good shot at earning the role; he has proven to be a quick learner, and -- at 6’6” 251 pounds -- a deft, potentially devastating blocker.
 
Training camp kicks off Tuesday July, 28 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
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