Dallas Cowboys: What to expect from Jason Witten after one year hiatus

Jason Witten ended his retirement to return to the Dallas Cowboys to make one last run at a Super Bowl. But what can they realistically expect from the 37-year-old entering his 16th season?

When Jason Witten left his new comfortable gig at ESPN Monday Night Football for a return to the Dallas Cowboys, he only had one goal in mind – to compete. And Witten wants to compete for a Super Bowl in what is likely his final season.

But will the Cowboys let Witten fully complete? There are reports that the Cowboys might have Witten on a snap count, limiting his plays to about 20-25 snaps per game. Anybody who knows anything about the future hall of fame tight end knows that he’s going to test that snap count.

Witten’s drive and desire to be on the field was enough to bring him back from the Monday night booth. And it will certainly keep him from watching the action from the sidelines. Even Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t seem to fully buy it:

“It sounded team-like. But knowing Witten, I have got to see it. I have got to see it.”

It doesn’t sound like Witten is expecting a reduced role, either. Earlier this year when it was announced he was coming out of retirement to return to the field, he had this to say to DallasCowboys.com: 

“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong. This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”

Despite what the Cowboys coaching staff might say, it’s hard to believe Witten will have a limited role. He’s too much of a competitor to accept being pulled from a game.

Imagine Dak Prescott facing a crucial third-and-7 situation late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys are down 3 and have the ball on their own 40-yard line. I have a hard time imagining Witten will allow himself to be taken off the field for that play because he reached his snap count.

Especially since he appears to be in phenomenal shape. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett says Witten looks like the same guy he always was:

“He looks the same. He looks the same. His weight is 250, low 260s. He looks fast, looks, looks flexible and moving around really well. He really hasn’t skipped A beat. Completely involved in our off-season program. On the field last week, he looked really good.”

If this is true, there’s no reason to have Witten on a snap count and no reason why he shouldn’t at least be as successful as he was before. He should put up very similar production to the years before he left.

The Cowboys should expect Witten to be the same third-down target he always was. They should expect him to always be open constantly throughout the game. They should expect Witten to have the softest, surest hands in the game. The Cowboys should expect Witten to be a prolific blocker and world-class competitor. They should expect a locker room leader and an example of professionalism on and off the field.

Basically, the Cowboys should expect to have Jason Witten back – and all of the benefits that come with him.

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