Jason Witten gets catches, needs more yards

IRVING, Texas – With 73 catches Jason Witten is tied for second in the NFL in receptions with New England’s Wes Welker, trailing Indianapolis’ Reggie Wayne by three.

Only running backs LeSean McCoy and Ray Rice have fewer yards per catch than Witten’s 8.7 yards among the top-50 pass catchers in the league.

Witten entered 2012 with an 11.4-yard per catch average, but his numbers are down this season because of the protection that is forcing Tony Romo to throw the ball much sooner. As a result Witten is running routes that don’t lead to a lot of yards after the catch.

“It’s tough,” Witten said. “You always want to do the best you can there and we’ve just not had those opportunities here lately. You’ve got to take what they give you and that’s part of your role, is to keep those first downs and underneath throws. I thought we’ve done a good job of that of keeping our drives alive and then hit some big throws. Obviously you want to stretch the field and keep the defense honest, but that seems like what we’ve had to do.”

Last year Witten had a career-high 15 catches of at least 20 yards. This year he has four. But 35 of his 73 catches have led to first downs, so he is continuing to move the chains.