The all-important “dress rehearsal” will likely feature the most minutes played by starters and significant members of the Cowboys until they open the season in Week 1 on the road against the Carolina Panthers. It’s the preseason, but it’s obviously important.
While the starters will be the focus of most, Sunday will also be important for players simply looking to make the 53-man roster. These days there’s no bigger point of contention in that regard than tight end Rico Gathers. It seems that Sunday could be a big opportunity for him.
Rico Gathers with a first-team snap and catch from Dak Prescott on a hot route. Folks might get what they want and see him play a lot vs. Arizona.— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) August 20, 2018
Recently, my colleague DannyPhantom made the case that the Cowboys should throw Gathers out there with starters against Arizona and see what happens.
It’s poetic that Rico could potentially get his biggest crack at making the team against the Arizona Cardinals. There happen to be a lot of former Cowboys on this team (Brice Butler, Bene Benwikere, Benson Mayowa) but there’s also an interesting line of history.
You’ll recall that the first bit of preseason action that we ever got from Rico Gathers also came against the Cardinals. It was the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game last season where Gathers reeled in three passes for 59 yards and the first touchdown of his that we ever saw. It was the moment that the hype was officially born.
Rico has been used sparingly so far this preseason having only notched 17 and 18 offensive snaps against San Francisco and Cincinnati, respectively. It’s definitely interesting to note that he’s being used so infrequently despite this being quite the important preseason game for his potential status on the team moving forward.
Despite low utilization halfway through the preseason the Rico hype has maintained a regular heartbeat. It’s been alive, perhaps a little slow but nevertheless alive, but it got hit with those electroshock paddles on Saturday night when Rico made this play.
This feels like an impossible question to answer, but we’ll ask it anyway. What would Rico have to do on Saturday to earn his spot on the 53-man roster? It’s not like one game can totally shift a pendulum from one direction to the next, but there’s no denying that a solid performance in this particular game can go a long way.
The immediate answer here really doesn’t lie in any potential box score because the Cowboys know what Rico can do in the passing game and they’ve known it since the Arizona preseason game last year. Rico is going to have to show a full grasp of the offensive playbook, an understanding of his job at any given moment, and the ability to go “from rebounds to touchdowns” on top of all of that.
In summary, Rico is going to have to play the best game of his short football life this Sunday. There will still be one final opportunity for Gathers to show off his skills in the preseason’s final game, but there’s no denying that it won’t at all carry the same level of significance or be against the same quality of opponent as this Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.
We’ve still got a few days until Rico’s time to shine is upon us. What do you think he’ll have to do, BTB?