It’s a tradition as old as time: Come offseason workouts, coaches will rave about how a player is in the best shape of his life.
The song and dance is beyond hackneyed at this point, save for extenuating circumstances, but the Dallas Cowboys certainly have one.
Longtime tight end Jason Witten is back after taking a year off to be an analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” and the 37-year-old is looking to make an impact this season.
“I guess the trick is to take a year off because he’s definitely gotten better, stronger and faster,” quarterback Dak Prescott said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He hasn’t lost a step.”
Prescott played two seasons with Witten and connected with him 132 times for 1,233 yards and eight scores from 2016-17. Witten likely won’t be used nearly as much during the 2019 season, as the team will have to pick and choose spots for him.
More than anything, the Cowboys brought back Witten to be a glue piece like Antonio Gates was for the Los Angeles Chargers last season. Being a leader and mentor, while having fun during the boring parts of the season sounds right up Witten’s alley.
“The work that he’s done in the weight room in the offseason program has been outstanding,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “His testing numbers and all of that are what they’ve been or even better. And he just has an unbelievable way about him. Tremendous passion for the game. And he demonstrates that every day. Witt looks good. He’s excited to be back and we’re certainly fortunate to have him back.”
Of course, there’s always a bit of bluster when coaches talk about players for the first time. Was Garrett really going to critique his eating habits during retirement in front of the cameras? The team is happy to have him back and glad that he’s willing to put in the necessary work.
“You don’t see many players walking away and coming back,” Garrett said, via WFAA.com. “And for him to come back and just be in the shape that he’s been in says a lot about who he is and what he’s been able to accomplish over the course of his career.”
More from Yahoo Sports: