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Rico Gathers says it takes a group to fill Jason Witten’s shoes

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Rico Gathers discusses how it’s not easy replacing Jason Witten.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been said about Jason Witten’s absence from Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, California.

Witten was a cornerstone for the Cowboys. His leadership prowess can’t be replicated, but many a player are going to try to fill in for what he did on the field.

Geoff Swaim, Blake Jarwin, Rico Gathers, and Dalton Schultz are the players to watch, and so far it seems like it’s a two-way competition between Swaim and Jarwin; however, there’s one name that everybody always looks toward at the position - Rico.

Gathers initially made the team’s 53-man roster last season but was quickly put on injured reserve where he spent the entire season, so we’ve never seen him truly back up Jason Witten. Multiple tight ends have seen their Cowboys career end because Witten never left the field (Anthony Fasano, John Phillips, Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar), Rico and co. at the very least won’t face that impediment.

Just how big of an impediment was it really, though (from a repetitions standpoint)? We’ve all seen the Cowboys play and universally acknowledge that Witten-less plays are rarer than diamonds, but how do the other tight ends feel about it?

Rico discussed just how much of the pie Jason Witten consumed, or at least how much it felt like he did. Spoiler, it’s definitely the majority. He went on noting how it’s going to be difficult to replace him and that it will take a group effort.

That was really like 98.9% of the reps. When a person like that leaves, a person of that caliber, who had a lot of accountability on his back... now you’re looking for guys like me, Swaim, Jarwin, to come out here and really just hold each other accountable to really fill those shoes. It takes a group to fill those shoes.

It’s great to hear Rico play around about how much of the work Jason Witten got and note that replacing it isn’t going to be easy. His road to the 53-man roster has been one of public debate more often than not, the preseason will likely add fuel to both sides of the fire.