Witten plays big role in commitment to run

IRVING, Texas – The franchise’s all-time leading receiver is the volunteer spokesman for the Valley Ranch Commitment to the Run campaign.

Jason Witten, who has the second-most catches in NFL history among tight ends, has consistently and enthusiastically stressed the importance of the previously pass-happy Dallas Cowboys’ transformation into a smashmouth team.

“It’s just a good winning formula for football,” Witten said.

That’s why Witten, who is a big game away from breaking the 10,000-yard barrier, doesn’t sweat the fact his receiving stats have slipped significantly (10 catches for 95 yards in three games). The number that gnaws at Witten can’t be found in his individual stats; it’s the one playoff win he has to show from his probable Hall of Fame career.

Witten recognized that the best way to improve the odds of postseason success is for the Cowboys to be a dominant running team, first and foremost. He has made sure that message has gotten across.

“He’s a special guy,” coach Jason Garrett said. “One of the best players I’ve ever been around. He’s a great leader. He’s a great team guy. He’ll embrace any role that we give him.”

Witten, a nine-time Pro Bowler whom Garrett calls “the most complete tight end in football” over the last decade, isn’t just paying lip service to the ground-and-pound game plan. He’s playing a key role in the success of the Cowboys’ rushing attack.

According to ProFootballFocus.com’s grades, Witten ranks as the most effective run-blocking tight end in the league so far this season.

“It’s an aspect we don’t talk enough about,” offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. “In the zone run, you’ve got to be able to get to the edge. You’ve got to be able to capture those players that are trying to set the edge, and he’s such an important factor to getting outside. If you don’t have that type of blocking tight end, you’re whistling in the end.”

Witten isn’t interested in whistling, just winning.