2017 was a season of mystery and confusion for the Dallas Cowboys. There are plenty of reasons to choose why.
Whatever your flavor is, you no doubt acknowledge that the way Dallas handled tight end Rico Gathers was confusing.
The second-year former Baylor basketball player showed an ability to contribute in the redzone during last year’s preseason. People were ready to believe, until Rico suffered a concussion before the season ever began.
Dallas put Gathers on injured reserve when they finalized their 53-man roster, and he never left. Concussions are a serious thing in the NFL, they can’t at all be predicted, but it was curious how the Cowboys continued to say that Rico wasn’t ready to come back.
On Wednesday at OTAs Rico confirmed that he was indeed ready to come back. Gathers said that he was cleared beginning after Week 7, this was the week Dallas traveled to Washington on October 29th after the game in San Francisco.
Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers said he was cleared Week 7 from concussion protocol but team left him on Injured Reserve. Hungrier than ever to make regular season roster.— Kate Hairopoulos (@khairopoulos) May 23, 2018
Also, Rico Gathers said he never had an injured jaw last year after training camp hit. It was all a concussion: "The jaw injury was more media related. I don’t know where that came from. Clear that up. It was mostly dealing with the headaches that come with having a concussion."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) May 23, 2018
A reminder of what Jason Garrett had to say about Rico around this time:
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is eligible to return to practice this week, but he won't today. Jason Garrett said he has been working on side, though, with strength & conditioning coach Mike Woicik.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) October 18, 2017
Jason Garrett says Rico Gathers has been in meetings this week. He expects him “to do something physical” today, but he doesn’t know how much he’ll practice #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) November 15, 2017
It’s a bad look for the Cowboys that their own player is publicly saying that he was cleared to come back but that they left him on injured reserve for over half the season. It’s outright saying that the Cowboys manipulated the status of injured reserve.
At the very least we’re at a point where Rico is comfortable speaking his mind. He’s ultimately hedging himself saying that everything is up to the coaches, but he clearly wanted to play and he was ready to. He also might be expecting to be cut based on his reference to “somebody’s” 53-man roster.
Rico Gathers: "I feel like I was ready to get back & practice around Week 8 or Week 9 & at least – at least – be able to practice & work on my blocking to continue my development. But, they had other expectations for me. I can’t go against the grain of what they wanted to do."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) May 23, 2018
Rico Gathers: "The biggest thing for me this year is just making it to the regular season. I have to make sure I’m healthy and make sure I’m able to be on somebody’s 53-man roster."— Brandon George (@DMN_George) May 23, 2018
The tight end group will be interesting heading into training camp.