Lockout analysis: Tight ends

July, 6, 2011
7/06/11
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ESPNDallas is providing a daily breakdown on how the lockout has affected the individual position groups.

Position: Tight ends

[+] EnlargeJohn Phillips
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezA knee injury wiped out John Phillips' 2010 season, but he could play a key role in 2011 if healthy.
Depth chart: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett, John Phillips, Martin Rucker, Jason Pociask

Not under contract: N/A

Player hurt most by lockout: Phillips

Player with most to gain: Phillips

Analysis: Phillips is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in last year’s Hall of Fame Game, and his value grew last year. His best asset is his versatility. He can line up on the line as a true tight end and he can play fullback.

But how healthy is he? He took part in the player-run workouts and was said to be moving well, but he would be better served to have his rehab monitored by the Cowboys’ athletic training staff.

If he can return to the form he was showing last summer, then he could take away from the snaps Martellus Bennett receives or make the former second-round pick expendable. With how much the Cowboys like to use multi-tight end spots, Phillips’ return to health will help Jason Garrett’s playcalling. He is smart and tough and can catch the ball better than was expected.

For Bennett, this is a huge season. He is in the final year of his contract. He has not put up huge numbers, but no tight end would behind Witten. He can be a devastating blocker, but he needs to be more consistent in his routes and his hands.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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