Gavin Escobar makes good impression in debut


OXNARD, Calif. -- If there were any questions about second-round pick Gavin Escobar, the rookie tight end helped answer them during the Cowboys' first preseason game against the Miami Dolphins.

After all, the Cowboys could have selected Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert, who many experts said was the best tight end in the draft, in the first round.

The Cowboys liked Escobar's pass-catching ability and said he can become better as a blocker. It sounded a lot like how they had described tight end James Hanna, a sixth-round pick from Oklahoma whom the Cowboys selected in 2012.

The Cowboys most likely will keep four tight ends on the roster. As camp started, Hanna was ahead of Escobar on the depth chart in the two-tight end sets. When Hanna suffered a strained hamstring, Escobar was matched with Jason Witten on the first-team.

Escobar made his debut as the Y-tight end, lined up closer to the tackle with his hand down, where he caught one pass for three yards and was targeted twice.

"He's capable of doing it," Garrett said of Escobar playing the Y position. "He blocked OK. He needs to be able to take the technique work that he's using in practice into the game."

Old habits have been hard to break for Escobar.

"I thought at times he reverted back (with) his hand placement, footwork," Garrett said. "He's a tough kid. He wants to be a good player. He's a very natural receiver. We saw that he had a couple of completions in the game -- one was called back -- but you could see he could run out of things (and) catch the ball. ... It was a good game for him because he had to stick his nose in there and block a little bit and play that spot. We did that on purpose and he responded well to it."