Much has been made about Jake Ferguson's second-year leap and the overall chemistry he's developed with Dak Prescott. In Ferguson, the Dallas Cowboys have a surefire TE1 for the foreseeable future, but they unfortunately haven't seen much from rookie second-round pick Luke Schoonmaker.
In fairness to Schoonmaker, he's seen an uptick in snaps over the last month and while his pass-catching numbers leave something to be desired, he ranks among the top TEs in the league in pass-block grade and run-block grade.
Still, it'd be ideal if Prescott had another reliable security blanket behind Ferguson, who figures to draw more attention from defenses as his reputation as a dynamic playmaker grows.
Might forgotten second-year man Peyton Hendershot emerge as that guy? On Wednesday, the Cowboys activated Hendershot from injured reserve and placed veteran tight end Sean McKeon on IR in a corresponding move to make room on the 53-man roster.
Maybe the better question would be did this move save Hendershot's Cowboys career?
Cowboys activate Peyton Hendershot from injured reserve in surprise move
Hendershot's 21-day practice window was set to expire on Wednesday. He would have reverted to season-ending IR if he wasn't activated before today's practice. The fact he was activated at McKeon's expense speaks volumes.
McKeon is highly thought of in the Cowboys building. He brings value as a blocker to the running game and had played 58% of the special teams snaps this season in nine appearances.
Going on IR with an ankle injury is unfortunate timing for the 25-year-old McKeon, but it creates a window of opportunity for Hendershot, who missed two games with his own ankle injury and then went on injured reserve for four weeks.
While McKeon excels in his limited roles, Hendershot is more athletic, a people-mover as a blocker, and offers more pass-catching upside. The Cowboys offense is humming right now, but nobody would turn their nose up at the in-form Prescott gaining another weapon.
In three games before his injury, Hendershot logged a 46% snap share on offense, so he was cemented as TE2 behind Ferguson. His production was nothing to write home about, but it's not crazy to think he could reclaim the backup role. After all, Schoonmaker hasn't run away with TE2 duties.
With Ferguson locked in as TE1, Schoonmaker being a second-round pick and likely to be brought back for at least one more year, and undrafted free agent John Stephens Jr. set to return from ACL surgery next season, the final five games could determine whether the Cowboys bring back Hendershot for a third season.
A huge opportunity awaits the young tight end.
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