Even after 15 seasons, Jason Witten still nervous in first preseason game back from ESPN stint

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Jason Witten has played a lot of football in his career.

The Dallas Cowboys tight end has 15 seasons in the league and nearly 12,500 receiving yards under his belt, along with 11 Pro Bowl nominations and a Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

By now, the 37-year-old knows how the game works.

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Yet on Saturday night, when the Cowboys took the field at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, Witten was still nervous.

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It marked his official return to football after a brief one-year stint in ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” booth.

“It felt really good,” Witten said after the game, via the Cowboys. “I was very anxious to get out there and play. It is just the next step in the comeback. I worked really hard to get back in shape. I hold myself to a high standard, so I can say it was not perfect.”

Witten didn’t play much in the preseason game. Most starters didn’t, and shouldn’t at this point.

But he did record a solid 10-yard catch early on to convert a third down, contributing to a 13-play, 97-yard touchdown drive to kick off the game.

“I got a little antsy early but had a big third down conversion on an option route,” Witten said, via the Cowboys. “That was big. Thirteen plays, it was a good drive for us offensively. I think this is just the next step.”

Only time will tell if the Cowboys all-time receptions leader will be back to his old self on the field this fall. While he’s received plenty of praise from the Dallas camp, it’s never clear how a player will respond after a full year away from the game.

Regardless, Witten said he enjoyed the team’s brief trip to Hawaii — which marked the first exhibition game held in the island state in 43 years. Now, though, he’s ready to get back to work before the team takes the field for real in three weeks.

“We did it as a group, going 97 yards, and that’s a big step for this team in moving on from last week,” Witten said, via WFAA’s Mike Leslie. “We still have a lot of training camp left.”

Cowboys tight end Jason Witten officially made his return to the football field on Saturday night after his one-year stint with ESPN. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten officially made his return to the football field on Saturday night after his one-year stint with ESPN. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

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