Cowboys receivers: Who's No. 3?

May, 9, 2012
5/09/12
12:04
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I have been writing for some time that there's no need to panic about the Dallas Cowboys' No. 3 wide receiver position just because Laurent Robinson caught 11 touchdowns last year and signed with Jacksonville. But ever since the first night of the draft, I have detected a burgeoning opinion among Cowboys fans that I am a moron who has no idea what he's talking about. You guys are subtle about it, but I can detect these things, in large part because I have not (to answer to several of your very polite mailbag questions) had a lobotomy.

So if you won’t take my word for it, I present the word of Mr. Todd Archer, the esteemed Cowboys writer for ESPNDallas.com, who made the case in a detailed piece Wednesday morning that the Cowboys can replace Robinson without having to find a guy to replace Robinson:
The No. 3 wide receiver on the Cowboys is really Tony Romo's fifth option offensively behind Jason Witten, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and either DeMarco Murray or Felix Jones.

The Cowboys did not dial up a ton of plays specifically for Robinson last year.

His biggest plays came when coverage filtered to the other wideouts or to Witten (hello, 70-yard touchdown versus Philadelphia) or plays broke down. This isn't meant as a knock on Robinson, because he was terrific last year. He and Romo were simpatico when plays went haywire, and that takes skill, not time.

Just ask Roy Williams that.

The Cowboys don't need to replace Robinson's numbers with one guy.

This is a fine summary of the way the Cowboys were thinking about their No. 3 wideout situation last summer, after they cut Williams and before they found Robinson on the free-agent scrap heap. And it is because of the way things worked out last year that the Cowboys remain convinced they can approach the situation the same way this year. Had Robinson not come along and did what he did in 2011, the Cowboys' offense would have found a way to replicate his production. His most significant contribution, as Todd points out, was his stint as a reliable fill-in during the times Austin had to miss due to hamstring injuries. If they can keep Austin's hamstrings healthier this year, then they won't have a need for someone to do what Robinson did last year. And if they can't, they feel decent enough about their ability to fill in, even if they need more than one player to do it this time.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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