Dallas Cowboys starting tight end Dalton Schultz is currently considered day-to-day after suffering a knee injury late in the fourth quarter of Week 2.
MRI results thankfully revealed that the franchise-tagged TE did not tear his ACL, but he does have a PCL issue. Head coach Mike McCarthy told reporters the team isn’t sure whether Schultz will be able to play in Monday’s game against the New York Giants or not, but the team is hoping he will be able to participate. The Standford product did not participate in practice on Thursday, but the team still has three days to decide what to do.
Enter two rookie tight ends who made quite the splash in the preseason. Fourth-round pick Jake Ferguson and UDFA Peyton Hendershot were both impressive enough to beat out veteran backup Sean McKeon for spots on the 53-man roster.
During the preseason, Hendershot proved to be a force with a total of six grabs for 52 yards and a touchdown against Seattle. Ferguson led the team in all three games with seven receptions on seven targets for 76 yards.
With Schultz potentially out, or at least likely having limited playing time, the two rookies are ready to seize their moment. The Wisconsin tight end said his mindset is always to be ready, whether Schultz is in the game or not:
"“The preseason definitely helped with [acclimating to NFL football]. Just getting the little things out of the way – minor adjustments and things like that. I’ve adjusted pretty well but I’ve just got to take advantage of every opportunity that comes my way. [Schultz’s status] doesn’t change my preparation at all.In my mind, I’m always thinking I’m going to play even if I’m not going to play. I know I gotta be ready for whatever comes my way.”"
Cowboys rookies Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot are ready for potential opportunity in Week 3
The undrafted free agent had much of the same mindset. On a team that has suffered several injuries this year, Hendershot understands that anything can happen:
"“I just put my head down and keep putting in the work and preparing like [you’re] going to be the starter. Last week [when Schultz exited against the Bengals] was an instance of that. I hadn’t played [in Week 1] but it comes down to two minutes – the most important part of the game – you gotta go in there. This week doesn’t mean anything different to me because I’ve been preparing this whole time.Anything can happen. This is my opportunity to go in there and get a big chunk of reps, so I’m ready to make the most of my opportunities.”"
With Schultz on the franchise tag, the front office may need to count on these two rookies to be the future of the tight-end position for this franchise. The two may get to show their worth earlier than expected.
Hendershot and Ferguson have garnered nothing but positive feedback from coaches, teammates, and fans, and they are also there to support each other. The two have been talking all week and are encouraging each other on the brink of their first potential NFL receiving snaps.
“It’s our time to go. We’re here now. It’s time to show who we are,” Ferguson told Hendershot.