OXNARD, Calif. – After the Cowboys allowed legendary tight end Jason Witten to move on to the Las Vegas Raiders and eventually retirement, Blake Jarwin appeared to be a shoe-in for the starting role. Dallas signed Jarwin to a 4-year, $22 million deal in March of last year, and included a $4 million signing bonus.
Jarwin didn’t even finish the first half of the first game of the 2020 campaign. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against the Rams in week one and missed the remainder of the season.
“I remember walking off the field and having a conversation with the doctor right there. ‘Hey, it’s probably an ACL,’” Jarwin recalled. “We get in the locker room and sure enough...”
Even with his personal expectations for 2020 shattered, Jarwin quickly picked up the pieces and focused on recovery.
“Let’s move forward. Let’s get done with the surgery, and let’s be the best I can be.”
As it happened, Jarwin wasn’t the only Cowboys player recovering from significant injuries. Offensive linemen Tyron Smith, who had neck surgery, and La’el Collins, who was recovering from hip surgery, were both regularly engaged with physical rehabilitation. Zack Martin and quarterback Dak Prescott eventually joined that list and helped create a communal bond that helped Jarwin find positivity in a tough time.
“To have that kind of chemistry, to be in there and to be working out together, trying to get back on the field, I think it was awesome for us because everybody else is at home. We were out grinding together.”
After Jarwin was lost for the season, Dalton Schultz had to step in as the starting tight end. In just his third year with the Cowboys, Schultz posted career-highs in receptions and yards with 63 catches for 615 yards and four touchdowns. Those were the first touchdowns of his NFL career.
“I’ve got to give credit to Schultz,” Jarwin said. “He played incredible last year, and that’s giving me something to kind of chase because he’s an amazing player.”