Jalen Tolbert’s renewed confidence could lead to Year 3 breakout

The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best wide receivers in the league in All-Pro CeeDee Lamb. They also have one of the better veteran WRs in Brandin Cooks to compliment Lamb in the passing game. After the top two receivers, things get dicey for the passing game.

However, third-year WR Jalen Tolbert appears ready to have his breakout season just when the Cowboys need him. The path for more playing time has never been clearer for Tolbert, who is the clubhouse leader to take over as the team’s third receiving option. With veteran WR Michael Gallup now with the Las Vegas Raiders, Year 3 is Tolbert’s opportunity to make an impact, a timeline that used to be the standard for a breakout at the position.

If the early signs from OTAs are any indication, Tolbert’s ready to make a leap into a big-time contributor in 2024. Tolbert expressed having his confidence back as a big reason for his possible ascension this season.

Tolbert entered the league playing at a smaller school, so there was expected to be a steep learning curve, but his first two years with the Cowboys didn’t go as he hoped. His second season was better than his rookie year, but with just 22 receptions for 268 yards and two scores in the 2023 campaign, the former South Alabama product still didn’t progress enough. Through two years, Tolbert has only 24 catches for 280 and those two scores. That’s not good enough for someone drafted in the third-round.

This needs to be the year where Tolbert proves his worth for the Cowboys and with Lamb out for the recent OTAs, it gave the WR a chance at more reps. The third-year WR took advantage and lined up with the first-team offense during the three-day sessions, along with second-year WR Jalen Brooks.

It looks like Brooks, and fellow third-year receiver KaVontae Turpin, will be Tolbert’s biggest competition for snaps. If Tolbert wants to be third on the depth chart come September, it’s something he’s going to earn. Nothing comes easily and Tolbert will have to fight for his spot in the pecking order.

Tolbert’s case is strengthened since he began working out with Cooks this offseason to help be a better player all-around. The veteran WR also believes that Tolbert is ready to make the most of his chance.

All the signs are pointing to Tolbert having an impact in Dallas in his third season. The work he put in, the opportunity, and the mindset has grown to where Tolbert’s expected to be more than a just special teams player and receiver who adds to the depth chart. Tolbert expects to be a big contributor in the passing game this upcoming season, as do his teammates and coaches.

That renewed confidence from the player and the franchise could make for a breakout year from Jalen Tolbert! One week into team organized practices and that appears to be the case.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire