Tight Ends To Be Strength For Cowboys

Not Jay Novacek, not Billy Joe Dupree, not Doug Cosbie. It's Jason Witten who holds the Cowboys records for most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end in a single season. Witten accomplished both of those last year with 87 catchs and 980 yards. Only five tight ends in NFL history have ever caught more passes in a season than Witten, four of which are already in the hall of fame, or on their way.

"He's a very easy guy to throw to because he runs precise routes," said quarterback Drew Bledsoe. "He's got tremendous hands and he's a tough guy. He can go in there and bounce off of guys and find some room for you to throw the ball."

"He's fun to coach, he really is," said head coach Bill Parcells. "He's big and he's fast and he can catch and he's pretty tough."

Parcells knows a thing or two about tight ends, having coached some of the best throughout his career, and he ranks Witten right up there. Maybe that's why he's not afraid to keep his third-year player in check.

"I was teasing him before camp," said Parcells. "I think he'll tell you this. I said, well, you ready to be a star now, or you just want to be a real good player? So, I try to give him the needle a little bit."

"You appreciate that just because he's pushing you, you know," said Witten. "He wants you to have success. But, at the same time, he doesn't want you to get the big head, you know?"

So after a pro bowl season, how does the position of tight end on the Dallas Cowboys get better? Well, you add one of the best blocking tight ends in the game in Dan Campbell, who missed most of last season with a severely sprained right foot, and is currently recovering from an emergency appendectomy.

"Believe me, there's nothing more that I want to do then practice right now, cause this watching is no fun," said Campbell.

"For me to have some success, I got to have him out there," said Witten.  "And for us as an offense to have success, we got to have him, so we do need him back and it'll change things."

Campbell is expected to be ready to practice as early as Monday, and relishes the idea of working with Witten .

"To be able to go out there and compliment him hopefully," said Campbell, "and play with a guy like Julius Jones and some of the other backs we've got, improved offensive line, is exciting."

Parcells has said he hopes to utilize the running game a lot more this season, which will call for both Witten and Campbell to be on the field at the same time, and will probably mean a decrease in statistics for Witten .

"If you don't have those kind of numbers and you're winning," said Witten, "I mean, I'm not complaining."

Kevin Berns reporting.