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Friday, May 3, 2013
Jason Witten welcomes a new tight end

By Calvin Watkins

MESQUITE, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys are not trying to replace tight end Jason Witten.

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Why would they?

Witten led the Cowboys with 110 catches last season. He also picked up 1,039 yards and three touchdowns and was the NFL leader in targets among tight ends with 150.

It was interesting the Cowboys drafted a receiving tight end in Gavin Escobar in the second round of the NFL draft.

The Cowboys have plans to utilize the famed 12 personnel grouping which means having two tight ends on the field and there could be a stretch where the Cowboys employ 13 personnel, three tight ends.

In 2012, the Cowboys ran 328 offensive plays out of 12 personnel. The Houston Texans led the league with 772 plays out of the package.

Witten welcomes not only the heavy use of 12 personnel but the new tight end, as well.

"It provides us an opportunity to use more 12 personnel," Witten said Friday afternoon after his SCORE Foundation help fund and donate a renovated learning center at a local Boys & Girls Club. "I think you have to understand that's where this league is going to a little bit and offenses that have the most success seemed to be using it. Hopefully he can come in and play and be a big part of our offense."

Witten isn't getting any younger.

The start of the 2012 season was, to be honest, terrible. There were numerous drops and he had just eight catches for 21 yards through three games. But he went on a four-game stretch with 43 catches, including an 18 catch, 167-yard performance against the New York Giants.

When the season ended, Witten was leading the Cowboys in catches and returned to form.

Yet, in the business of the NFL, when you turn 30, it reminds you it's a young mans game.

"I am going into my 11th year," said Witten, who turns 31 on Monday. "I am not getting any younger but I feel great."