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Thursday, May 23, 2013
James Hanna still has role with Cowboys

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- When the Dallas Cowboys drafted Gavin Escobar in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft, it seemed like 2012 sixth-round pick James Hanna was a forgotten man.

Hanna, a Flower Mound product, displayed some promise toward the end of the 2012 season. It seemed the Cowboys found a carbon copy of Hanna in Escobar, a slender pass-catching tight end.

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Did the Cowboys forget about Hanna?

"I'm pretty confident in myself and I feel like I have a lot to bring (to the team and) a lot of different aspects to the game, and (Escobar) does too," Hanna said. "So just having great players is good for the team."

Hanna finished last season with just eight catches for 86 yards and no touchdowns. But in the regular season finale at Washington, Hanna got significant playing time due to injuries to several wide receivers and caught a career-high three passes for 20 yards.

Hanna appeared to have some upside. But then the Cowboys draft Escobar, who is not a blocking tight end, something some draft experts thought the Cowboys needed.

"That's the way the business works," Hanna said. "That’s the way it goes."

Hanna said tha tnew tight ends coach Wes Phillips is changing the techniques of the group to improve the blocking of the team. Hanna is also bulking up so he can be stronger at the point of attack and the Cowboys can rely on him more. The Cowboys are planning to use more two tight end sets and maybe employ the use of three tight ends, which means more playing time for Hanna.

"I like to think that I'm trying to be well-rounded and being faster, stronger running better routes, hand placement, all of that stuff," Hanna said.