They are two of the best receivers in the NFL. They can do things athletically that few in the game can do. They are vital to their team’s success.
But for the Cowboys there’s another receiver that will play a large role Sunday and he is nothing like Bryant or Johnson. It’s not Terrance Williams, either, although the Cowboys rookie receiver has become a large part of Tony Romo’s success.
It’s Cole Beasley, who is nine inches shorter and 56 pounds lighter than Johnson and six inches and 42 pounds lighter than Bryant.
In his past four games Beasley has caught 17 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Ten of those catches have produced a first down.
Romo is “never really going to come to you and say, ‘I have confidence in you,’ or anything like that, but it’ll show in his play,” Beasley said. “If he’s looking for you out there to throw the ball to you, then he has confidence you’re going to be open and be where you’re supposed to be. Really just being with him and making plays when he throws the ball to you, that’s going to be for any quarterback. They’re not going to have confidence in you if they throw the ball and you drop it and you’re running the wrong route and it gets picked. You just have to be reliable and that’s what quarterback friendly is.”
As the Cowboys wait for Miles Austin’s hamstring to improve, Beasley’s role has increased. At 5-foot-8, and listed at 180 pounds, he has found a role in a big man’s game.
“Football players find a way to play no matter what,” Romo said. “Yes, he would’ve been able to play [in the NFL 10 years ago]. It’s different ways going about winning and losing and moving the ball. You just have to take advantage of different people’s skills and we are doing that.”
Bryant and Johnson have the obvious physical skills with their speed and strength. Beasley’s skill is his quickness and feel. The Cowboys use him in space the way San Diego uses running back Danny Woodhead or even how the Lions use Reggie Bush.
They create mismatches for the defense.
“He gives you the dimension of quickness and agility and the guy can change direction in the slot and do multiple things,” offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. “You can isolate him on different guys and different locations, so I think that’s a real advantage to have a guy like him, kind of Wes Welker-ish in a sense. He gives us that dimension. He gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of his route tree and the things he can do to get open.”
Beasley also knows what he isn’t. He knows he can be compromised by his size, so space becomes his friend.
“Teams are going to adjust, I think, eventually,” Beasley said. “I mean right now they’re just kind of doing the same things and letting me work. So until they adjust we’re going to take advantage of what they give us. But they’ll adjust and when they do we’ll go somewhere else, I’m sure. That’s what good teams do. These are good coaches and they’ll see it, and right now I’m just doing what I’m told.”