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September 27, 2013

Cowboys' LB Justin Durant figures going against Witten every day will help him be ready to see Antonio Gates again

Brandon Carr is not the only Cowboys defender with experience against the San Diego Chargers.

Justin Durant played the Chargers two years ago when he was with Detroit, and he remembers one play in particular – a 24-yard catch by Antonio Gates against him in a 38-10 Lions victory in 2011. It was called back by holding, but that didn’t matter to the now-Cowboys linebacker.

“He made a good catch on me. I remember it, and I’m still mad about it,” Durant said with a smile this week at Valley Ranch. “He’s pretty good, man. We went one-on-one, had a nice little battle. He’s definitely one of the better tight ends. He’s got good speed. He’s tough to cover, man.”

Gates is one of the elite tight ends in the game today.

So is Durant’s present teammate, Jason Witten. Durant said the same things that make Gates tough are the same things that make Witten tough.

“Some kind of way, he finds a way to get open,” Durant said of Witten. “I’d played against him before as well, and I always thought he was one of the best at being able to get open. He runs his routes so smooth, and he’s just one of the smartest guys I’ve ever played against. I enjoy going against him every day. I told the guys as soon as I got here, that he was going to be a major factor in making us better as a linebacker group.

“I love having a chance to go against him. He prepares me to go against guys like Gates.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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