Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spoke about the team's expectations as they landed at Pt Mugu on Saturday. Training camp starts Monday in California. Video by Drew Davison. Drew Davison ddavison@star-telegram.com
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten spoke about the team's expectations as they landed at Pt Mugu on Saturday. Training camp starts Monday in California. Video by Drew Davison. Drew Davison ddavison@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys

Ageless TE Jason Witten looking spry and fresh; credits the weekly day off

By Clarence E. Hill Jr.

chill@star-telegram.com

August 24, 2017 02:48 AM

UPDATED August 24, 2017 11:12 AM

FRISCO

Tight end Jason Witten is Dallas Cowboys oldest tenured player in his 15th year and second oldest in age.

He is 35.

Deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur is 36 though the difference in the physicality of their positions probably means Witten’s body feels older.

So the sight of Witten putting a move on and then running by second-year safety Kavon Frazier, who is 13 years younger, as he did on Tuesday in practice, was eye popping.

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Never mind that Witten is the team’s all-time leading receiver and a likely Hall of Famer with the second most catches of any tight end in NFL history.

He is supposed to slow down at some point. He should not still be looking spry and running free against his younger teammates daily in practice or younger opponents as did against the Indianapolis Colts last Saturday

Is he turning back the clock by looking quicker heading into the 2017 season?

If so, credit may go to the Cowboys finally being able to force the intense Witten to relax and take some days off.

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He didn’t practice consecutive days in the offseason and has taken a veteran day off every third day during training camp, making him fresher and spry again heading into the 2017 season

“I don’t know ‘better.’ He’s never really ever not looked good to me, so but I think he does if the word is maybe a little fresher,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “I think that our approach with him, we’ve made him take some days off. He does not want to take those days off. He’s just listening and trusting the people that are giving him advice from not only coaches but the trainers and everybody else. I think that’s helped. I think it does help the older veterans. We don’t want guys to miss practice either.

“We’d like to have everybody out there but we’ve got to listen to the experts on this. I think it’s been a big part of him I think, for camp, but it also shows that this guy works like an unbelievable pro getting himself prepared. He doesn’t just show up and get himself in shape in camp. You should see the guy, how he works. I know you guys do but the way he prepares to get himself ready for camp, I mean it’s a year round thing for him and I’ve never seen a professional that’s as professional about his job as Jason.”

Witten was off Wednesday along with five other veterans, including receiver Dez Bryant, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, tackle Tyron Smith, running back Darren McFadden and receiver Cole Beasley.

Might the days off also add years to Witten’s career. He signed a four-year contract extension in March.

It was mainly a salary cap move and no one thinks he will play until 2021.

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He has said in the past he is looking at his situation on a year-to-year basis.

But if he is taking days off and feeling fresher, coming back in 2018 is a definite possibility.

Witten is just 16 yards shy of tying Michael Irvin’s record of 11,904 receiving yards.

“Witt looks good,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He works very hard at it. He does a lot to keep his body right. That’s the work we do here.

“I know he spends a lot of time trying to keep himself flexible and just keep himself fresh and in tune. We’ve talked about this before. His test scores in the off-season continue to be at the same level or better year after year. Real tribute to his work ethic and what kind of guy he is. He’s obviously a very good player with a great understanding of technique and how to get open.”

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr