By Matthew Postins
There’s a distinct possibility that if Cole Beasley hadn’t gone to SMU that he might not be a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
If you dig into the annuls of the NFL you’ll find that scouting wasn’t the refined science that it is today. In the early days of the NFL most teams farmed their talent locally. As college football grew into more of a nationwide game that changed. But as sort of a homage to that bygone era, each NFL team is allowed to have one en masse “local pro day” at their facility. That’s how the Dallas Cowboys find some of these undrafted free agents they sign after the draft each year.
That’s how they got to know Beasley better during the pre-draft process. Thanks to that exposure the Dallas Cowboys signed Beasley as an undrafted free agent, even though they drafted a similar receiver, Danny Coale out of Virginia Tech, in the fifth round.
Coale is gone and Beasley is catching passes by the bunch, and his importance to the Dallas Cowboys offense is growing by the game.
Seven weeks ago Beasley wasn’t active for the season opener. Against Philadelphia on Sunday he had a career-high six receptions for 53 yards. In fact, Beasley’s numbers have gone steadily up since he caught one pass against St. Louis on Sept. 22.
Beasley now has 18 receptions for the season. The more startling stat is that he’s been targeted 21 times. So he’s not only productive he’s reliable.
This opportunity is due to the injury to Miles Austin. In fact, Beasley started on Sunday in Austin’s place after the veteran suffered an apparent setback to his lingering hamstring injury.
But some of it is Beasley, who at this time last year was watching and learning instead of playing.
It’s clear he’s earned quarterback Tony Romo’s trust, along with another young receiver named Terrance Williams.
“If you work hard and get open in one-on-one situations it’s not hard (to trust them),” Romo said. “I’ll help you with my timing in other situations, but I just need them to do their job when they’re singled up.”
Beasley did that all day, catching passes on one side of his body and spinning around – which seems to be his go-to move – to the other side to evade a would-be tackler.
The Dallas Cowboys found Beasley because he went to SMU, where he set school records and found a showcase in June Jones’ offense. SMU, being a local school, allowed the Cowboys the access to get to know Beasley better than most NFL teams.
That made it easy to sign Beasley, who grew up in nearby Little Elm, after the draft. But even after the Dallas Cowboys signed Beasley he nearly didn’t make it to the regular season. He actually left camp for two days, apparently quitting. Head coach Jason Garrett had a decision to make when Beasley changed his mind – let him come back or let him go.
Garrett let him come back. It might have been one of the best decisions Garrett has made in a while.
The two words people use to describe Beasley are “Wes” and “Welker,” as in the Broncos receiver who seems to have cleared a path for smallish slot receivers in the NFL. Welker is 5-foot-9. Beasley is 5-foot-8. Both share Texas roots, toughness in tight spaces and sticky receiving hands. Of course, Welker has several hundred catches on Beasley right now. But Welker was at one time exactly where Beasley is – an undrafted free agent trying to cement his place on a team.
If Beasley’s career worked out half as well as Welker’s then the Dallas Cowboys should be applauded for shopping locally for talent. And Beasley should be praised for making the most of his opportunity.
Dallas Cowboys Injury Update
For once Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett wasn’t talking about new injuries.
The Cowboys came out of the Eagles game healthy and now try to move forward in getting some of their veterans back on the field, including wide receiver Miles Austin, defensive end DeMarcus Ware and running back DeMarco Murray.
Garrett elaborated a bit on Austin’s presence on the practice field before the Eagles game. He did work out last Wednesday, and Garrett said the team sat Austin on Thursday and Friday in an effort to keep him fresh. He played against the Eagles but didn’t have a catch.
“We had a lot of injuries prior to the game that allowed us to dress (Austin) regardless,” Garrett said. “He warmed up well. So we gave him a chance to play. I thought he did fine. He’s not quite himself. He had a good start to the season. He had explosiveness and he was productive and he hasn’t been the same since he tweaked the hamstring. We have to get him well.”
Ware missed the first game of his career when he was inactive on Sunday. He ran on Monday at Valley Ranch and Garrett said Ware is making progress, but offered no timetable for a return.
Same goes for Murray, who missed the game with a knee injury. Garrett did offer that Murray’s starting job is safe.
“He’s our starter and he has been and he will be our starter,” Garrett said. “We have to get him healthy. We like (Joseph) Randle and want to give him some opportunities. We’ll figure out the rotation.”
Garrett is also hopeful another running back, Lance Dunbar, can return to the practice field this week. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.