Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott threw a one-yard pass to tight end Luke Schoonmaker in the end zone during Sunday’s second quarter against the New York Jets. It was Schoonmaker’s first NFL career touchdown.
Schoonmaker the touchdown maker @LukeSchoonmaker
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
A clip from the Cowboys’ weekly segment called “Sounds from the Sidelines” shows Lunda Wells, the team’s tight ends coach, giving Schoonmaker a hard time for not keeping the ball.
The tight end talked exclusively with Pro Football Network about the game ball and if he secured it after the contest.
Did Luke Schoonmaker Keep the Game Ball?
The short answer: Yes.
Schoonmaker discussed the chain of events immediately following the touchdown, saying he was looking at the flags the officials threw, thinking, “This better be a touchdown.”
At that moment, he didn’t realize that the flags were on Jets LB Sam Eguavoen for defensive holding and on Jets DE Micheal Clemons for roughing the passer.
The 24-year-old said his teammates were rushing to tell him he had just scored his first NFL touchdown.
He said that’s when he started wondering where the ball went since it was already too late for him to do the celebration he had planned to do ahead of time.
But when he returned to the bench, Wells had already had someone grab it for him. The moments seen on Sounds from the Sideline show Wells telling Schoonmaker the importance of saving the ball as a keepsake.
When asked if there are planned touchdown celebrations for the tight ends, he smiled and said, “Yeah, they’re coming out.”
Can Schoonmaker Be a Solution for the Cowboys’ Red-Zone Struggles?
The tight end said he knew he had a good chance of getting the touchdown when the play was called if he could get open, which ended up happening.
Although the second-round draft pick wants to be an “everything guy” for Prescott, he wants to emphasize productivity in the red zone.
“You have to put it to the defense because you’re in their territory, and now they’re backed up, and you’ve got to own it. And so that’s my mindset going into it that you’ve got them backed into a corner, and you just got to finish it,” said Schoonmaker.
In Week 2, the Cowboys struggled to capitalize in the red zone, as kicker Brandon Aubrey scored 16 of the team’s 30 points.
Although tight ends are used more for blocking in the West Coast offense, the team still needs an established go-to red-zone guy after releasing Ezekiel Elliott in the offseason.
Schoonmaker could be the perfect fit for this role with his size, speed, and build that can push through defenders, getting yards after catch when needed.
Schoonmaker’s Neutral Mindset
So far, Schoonmaker has learned to keep a neutral mindset, not forcing big plays in the game but allowing them to happen and executing them when they do come up.
“You just go out and play football and play the game that you have been playing and just taking what you’ve been practicing the whole week into the game. It’s just practice elevated. So then you just start playing, and so that’s kind of in my mindset. It’s worked out pretty well for me,” said Schoonmaker.
The tight end knows that the big plays will come, saying, “They’re going to happen, and you just have to be ready for that opportunity and fall back in your training.”
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