Dallas Cowboys rookie Peyton Hendershot celebrated National Tight End Day on Sunday in the best way possible — scoring his first-ever NFL touchdown.
For Hendershot, this was much more than just a touchdown.
"“It was a blessing. I can not describe the words for it. I’m very blessed and thankful to be a Dallas Cowboy.”"
The 23-year-old began his career as an undrafted rookie out of Indiana University. With Dalton Schultz on the franchise tag and Wisconsin’s Jake Ferguson getting drafted in the fourth round, it was looking like the possibility of adding another rookie tight end to the group was slim. However, Hendershot was stellar in camp and preseason and both he and Ferguson earned themselves spots on the initial 53-man roster over veteran depth pieces like Sean McKeon and Jeremy Sprinkle.
Schultz has unfortunately been dealing with some knee issues, which has allowed Hendershot and Ferguson to thrive in the chances they’ve received. Through seven weeks in 2022, the Indiana product has already caught seven passes for 70 yards and a touchdown — an incredible feat for a guy who started his journey as one of over 20 UDFAs to sign with Dallas in April.
Up 17-6 with two minutes remaining, Prescott faked a handoff, dropped back, waited for something to materialize, and found Hendershot wide open in the back left of the end zone. The score allowed the Cowboys to go up 24-6, which ended up being the final score of the matchup.
Cowboys UDFA rookie Peyton Hendershot helps make franchise history with his first-ever TD on National Tight End’s Day
The touchdown being on the “tight end holiday” also happened to be Dak Prescott’s first passing touchdown of the season in his return after breaking his thumb in Week 1. It’s also worth noting that the combination of Schultz, Ferguson, and Hendershot was heavily involved, going 8-for-8 for 61 yards and a score with Prescott against the Lions.
When asked about the big moment for Hendershot, Prescott elaborated on the play and said he continues to be grateful and excited about all of the weapons in this rookie class:
"“One of the best rookie classes I’ve seen in my seven years here. I feel like I said that last year and then to have this class come in – the way they approach each and every day.On that touchdown, what’s funny is Jake [Ferguson] went to the flat and to the right is the first read. Jake’s the second read. And when I looked at him he was covered, but then I see Peyton [Hendershot] in the back of the end zone [doing jumping jacks] – so I throw it. They were giving me stuff on the sideline like, ‘Oh, you didn’t throw it to Jake because he scored last week?’It’s [National] Tight End Day so let’s feed them all. It’s great for the two young guys.”"
As the Cowboys QB mentioned, fellow rookie Ferguson was also open a few yards in front of him, which meant the Wisconsin product was the first to be able to celebrate with him after the touchdown.
The young duo of tight ends not only has two touchdowns on the year now, but they have also made franchise history thanks to Hendershot’s score. This year marks the first season ever for the Cowboys where two rookie tight ends have both scored in a season.
Despite his injury issues, Schultz still leads the TE corps with 14 receptions for 129 yards, but these rookie tight ends are giving him a run for his playing time.
When Hendershot was asked if this was “the first of many” touchdowns to come for him, the rookie was on board.