As legend grows, Cowboys looking for more than flash from Rico Gathers

OXNARD, Calif. -- The legend of Rico Gathers continues to grow.

Through two preseason games, the former Baylor power forward and current Dallas Cowboys tight end has two touchdown catches.

Gathers caught a 26-yard touchdown reception from Kellen Moore in the Hall of Fame Game against the Arizona Cardinals and followed that up by running past a Los Angeles Rams linebacker for a 25-yard touchdown catch from Cooper Rush in Dallas' second game.

Gathers has seven catches for 106 yards in two games.

“It’s taking what I’ve learned in practice and what I learned over the course of the year and just using that to get better in these games,” Gathers said.

What that will all mean once the regular season starts is the great unknown. Gathers remains behind Jason Witten, James Hanna and Geoff Swaim on the depth chart, but he appears to be a lock to make the 53-man roster.

Can he find his way onto the game-day roster? Perhaps. But it won’t be purely because of what he can do as a tight end. He is going to have to show he can contribute on special teams, like Hanna and Swaim do, to ensure a spot.

But scoring touchdowns matters, and offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is intrigued by Gathers, even if it is not in a full-time role.

“Rico’s got some really good possibilities for a matchup player,” Linehan said. “We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. He’s two games into preseason. He’s got in the end zone twice, so that’s a good sign. So, yeah, I think he’s going to be somebody that can develop into a guy that can be matchup for us. He is a huge human being and he has good catch radius, so that’s a positive.”

Tight ends coach Steve Loney has liked Gathers’ progress, but he cautions that the progress is “baby steps.”

“I told him as a coach one of the most important traits of a player is consistency, because then as you develop a game plan and develop what a player can and can’t do; if a player is consistent, then you know what is strengths and what his weaknesses are,” Loney said. “But if he’s not consistent, which for a young player, that’s one of the biggest things to overcome. … Once he gains that consistency, that will be more impressive to me. I’ve known for a long time that he's capable of the flash plays. Now I’ve got to get him to where every snap is as impressive.”