For the first time, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that a lack of practice in the preseason is probably affecting veteran tight end Jason Witten, who had two drops in Sunday’s game against Tampa.
“He hasn’t caught balls that we are used to seeing him catching,” Garrett said. “I’m not making excuses for him, but there was a stretch of about four weeks ... where he didn’t practice. He gutted it out for us in a heroic effort against the Giants. He is still getting his feet back underneath him. He’s had six practices since then, and I think he’s just trying to get back into his rhythm.”
Witten missed all that practice time recovering from a torn spleen he suffered in the first preseason game. The recovery required him to avoid all activity for seven to 10 days after the injury, and he practiced only in very limited fashion until the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 5.
“He just has to keep playing. ... He’s one of the best players I’ve ever been around, so we are going to keep giving him opportunities,” Garrett said.
Witten didn’t speak to reporters after the game.
For the year, he has eight catches for 76 yards. He was targeted six times Sunday.
Quarterback Tony Romo said, “I think that Jason sets such a standard for himself and everybody, that everyone is shocked if he doesn’t play perfect. ... That doesn’t tell the whole story. He played a good football game. But I know that people are just gong to see one thing and think something. Jason does an outstanding job for us, and he’s not going anywhere for a long time.”
-- Carlos Mendez