IRVING, Texas – After setting an NFL record for catches in a season with 112 last year, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is on pace for 74 catches and 806 yards, which would be the lowest totals he has had since 2006.
Witten has seen some extra attention from opposing defenses, but nothing extravagant, according to coach Jason Garrett.
"The same thing [he's been seeing] his whole life," Garrett said. "He gets a lot of attention from opposing defenses, whether it's a defensive lineman or a linebacker trying to re-route him at the line or a safety coming down or a backer covering him from inside out. He's just one of those guys who teams understand that he's been a really good player for a long time. He gets that attention. We got to keep working on ways to get him opportunities. He has to keep trying to take advantage of them."
Witten said the Lions doubled him more than the Cowboys anticipated, which played a part in his two-catch, 15-yard game.
While Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan look to give quarterback Tony Romo answers for where to go with the ball, they also must come up with answers to make sure teams can't double Witten or Dez Bryant as much.
As Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson showed last week and Witten showed last season, things can change quickly. After catching just eight passes for 76 yards in the first three games in part because he was playing with a lacerated spleen, Witten caught 13 passes for 112 yards in the fourth game of the season. Three games later he caught 18 passes 167 yards.
"We've done some different things that have made it tough on them," Witten said. "Dez and I have gotten on the same side. The big touchdown to him, we were both on the same side … They know on those underneath throws when it's 3-and-6, 2-and-7, they anticipate it. Maybe a little bit more than we've seen in the past, but we'll fight through it."