IRVING – The Dallas Cowboys finished with 29 passing touchdowns last season, sixth-most in the NFL. Through three preseason games, however, the Cowboys have only passed for two touchdowns.
One of them came Saturday in Arizona, a five-yard score from third-string quarterback Alex Tanney to second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar.
The sure-handed tight end hauled in all five passes thrown in his direction in the 12-7 loss to the Cardinals. Although four of those receptions came in the second half against reserves and players fighting for one of Arizona’s final roster spots, Escobar showed a glimpse of what he can do as a pass-catcher in the Cowboys’ offensive scheme.
“That’s what I did in college and that’s definitely my strength,” Escobar said. “I’m hoping to expect catches.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett called Escobar “quarterback friendly” because of his ability to run correct routes and create space between defenders with his 6-6, 249-pound frame.
But in order to get more targets, Escobar must add strength and improve as a blocker.
“My technique’s getting better but these are bigger d-ends that I’m blocking now, so definitely in the off-season that’s going to be a big key for me,” Escobar said of becoming stronger. “Blocking-wise there’s still things I need to clean up. Technique-wise, I have to work on staying lower on blocks.
“There’s a lot I still need to improve on.”
But with five catches for 32 yards, Escobar, who has caught six of the seven balls thrown to him during the preseason, demonstrated that he could be a factor in the passing game during his rookie season.
“I’m reliable catching the ball and I think I’m a threat in the red zone, just being a big target,” he said. “But in this offense, you got to be able to do it all to be on the field. That’s why I need to keep improving all around.”