Cowboys 'Old Man' Witten shows he can still ride in win
CLEVELAND (AP) Dressed sharply in a suit, the epitome of a professional, tight end Jason Witten stood at his locker Sunday like he has done so many times in a brilliant 13-year NFL career.
The Dallas Cowboys had won their seventh straight game, and Witten quickly credited the contributions of the team's newest offensive stars - rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, two young guns playing like seasoned vets.
As if on cue, Elliott emerged from the shower and paid his respects.
''Old Man Witten ... Old Man Witten,'' Elliott sang, drawing a smile from Witten.
On Sunday, one of the old Cowboys showed he can still ride.
Witten caught a 26-yard touchdown pass and finished with eight receptions for 134 yards as the Cowboys thrashed the Cleveland Browns 35-10 to improve to 7-1.
Solid and steady for years, Witten accounted for more than half of Dallas' passing yardage. He was Prescott's favorite target, taking advantage of huge openings in Cleveland's soft defense.
''He just did a great job,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ''Much of it was in a complementary role to what we were doing in the running game, but he was the beneficiary and he just has a really good feel for getting open.
''You hear me talk a lot about quarterback-friendly, and he's the ultimate quarterback-friendly guy. He always gets himself open. The quarterbacks love throwing to him. He was able to catch a lot today.''
Witten has been doing it for a long time.
With 1,058 receptions, 11,639 yards and 10 Pro Bowls, he ranks among the best tight ends in league history. He appears destined for enshrinement in Canton, Ohio, one day. But in the interim he's doing all he can to contribute to these new-look Cowboys, who are off to their best start since 2007.
Sure, the Cowboys have been infused with youth, but Witten gives them invaluable experience.
''Of course, he's not an old guy,'' 74-year-old owner Jerry Jones said with a smile. ''But I'm sure he feels old out there with the other football players. For all that he's done for this team and this game, I'm happy that he's able to have this type of game.
''Jason Witten is in the top five people, personally, that I've met since I've been in the NFL - coaches, owners, players, everybody. He really is that good of a man.''
It was Witten's first 100-yard game in three years and it provided a perfect balance to Elliott's running and Prescott, who has quieted any discussion about Tony Romo returning to the lineup anytime soon.
As Ellliott and Prescott changed near his locker, Witten said the rookies have rejuvenated him.
''They create a lot of energy,'' he said. ''They make me feel young. Each and every day I tell them that. They've brought energy to our football team.
''For a veteran player like myself, when you look at young guys, the first thing you look at besides the skill level and things like that is `Do they love football?' Those two really exemplify that more than anything I've seen in a long time.
''They love football, they love it on Sundays, but they also love it during the grind of the week.''
Prescott said Witten leads the way. His contributions go beyond what he brings onto the field.
''He's a great vet to have on Sundays and really on Monday, as well,'' he said. ''What he brings to the offense, to this team, his demeanor and how he goes about his business and how detailed he is, makes you want to be great.''
Witten's TD came on a play where he was left wide open. Later, he showed off a nice spin move, drawing a few ''shake and bake'' quotes from teammates.
Witten got a kick out of that.
''My game's never really referenced a shake and bake,'' he said, laughing. ''I'll take that. I believe I can play at that high level at tight end that people saw me play when I was younger.''
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