There weren’t many positives to take from the Dallas Cowboys‘ recent 26-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. But the play of a pair of rookies was certainly a highlight.
With a combined 11 targets between the two of them versus the Eagles, one more than wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, rookie tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot are quickly becoming vital members of the offense gameplan in Dallas. Against Philly, Ferguson was able to score the first touchdown of his young career and the tight end duo racked up six receptions for 62 yards between them.
And while their play as receiving targets has clearly been a bright spot for the Cowboys through their first six games in the NFL, so has their ability as blockers. In fact, Dallas averages 118.8 rushing yards per game as the combo of running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard have register two touchdowns a piece on the ground so far this season.
Ferguson was a fourth round draft selection out of Wisconsin in this year’s NFL draft. While Hendershot was an undrafted rookie free agent out of Indiana.
The combined play of these two rookies has made the disappearance of tight end Dalton Schultz tolerable (and potentially replaceable). Schultz had a breakout season in Dallas in 2021, racking up 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. In the offseason, the Cowboys used their franchise tag to retain the 26-year old for another season at the cost of $10.9 million. Schultz is set to become a free agent again next year.
But so far this season, Schultz has only been able to record a total of nine catches for 80 yards. That’s due in part to the surprising play of the team’s new rookie tight ends, the early injury suffered by quarterback Dak Prescott in Week One, and a lingering knee injury that forced Schultz to miss the team’s recent game against the Eagles on Sunday.
While both Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot are finding ways to contribute as rookies, it’s exciting to think about how these two could impact the Dallas Cowboys in the near future. It’s not difficult to imagine how having two dynamic tight ends could impact and influence this offense in the years to come.