Gavin Escobar was drafted as a pass-catching tight end with the hopes that he might eventually learn to be an acceptable blocker. Last week I detailed how he was becoming the odd man out with the emerging dominance in the running game. James Hanna has been the better blocker of the two, and through the first five weeks of the season he was getting the majority of the reps as the second tight end for the Dallas Cowboys.
Coach Garrett has been adamant that the second-year player from San Diego State has been putting in the efforts to better himself and that we would soon see the fruits of his diligence.
"There are some things we think he does better than James Hanna. There are some things James Hanna does better than he does. We try to give those guys opportunities to do what they do best when they are in those two-tight-end packages. We have done some three-tight-end stuff up to this point. He is a good player and he is getting better. And he is working hard at it. He will get opportunities as we go forward." - Jason Garrett
Garrett was not kidding. Looking at the snap count from Sunday's action in Seattle, Escobar got 24 offensive snaps while Hanna was limited to 15. Gavin responded with a big catch for a touchdown, but you sort of expect the receiving TE to catch a ball or two. His biggest contributions came later in the game, and they came in an unexpected role. Following the highlight reel catch by Terrance Williams, Dallas turned to its workhorse back, DeMarco Murray, to lead the team to the end zone and Escobar helped to clear the way. Perhaps I was still in awe of TWill's efforts, but I will admit that I did not notice who was clearing a path for Murray. Thanks to the efforts of others, I went back and watched the final plays of that series with a critical eye. Sure enough there was Gavin Escobar showing up on film.
On Murray's 25-yard run, he delivered a clearing block on linebacker K.J. Wright. On the next play, he pancaked Wright on Murray's six-yard run. Then he made a nice block on Michael Bennett as Murray sprinted past him for a 15-yard touchdown run.
Across the board, the Dallas Cowboys have been stepping up when they are given opportunities. It was nice to see a much maligned player embrace his opportunity when his number was called. On Sunday Gavin Escobar lived up to a mantra Jason Garrett has preached since he replaced Wade Phillips as head coach. He seized the moment.
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