ARLINGTON, Texas — Geoff Swaim’s introduction to the NFL included a three-year tutelage under the man he would one day have to replace, the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver and a player who made a living torturing the Giants.
Sunday would be the first time the Cowboys faced the Giants without the services of Jason Witten since Dec. 15, 2002, at Giants Stadium, but their new starting tight end was well aware of the history.
“I saw it,” Swaim said of Witten’s dominance against the Giants. “I know the kind of player Witt was. I was there to witness a lot of that.”
In 30 games against the Giants across 15 seasons, Witten racked up 154 receptions for 1,568 yards and 15 touchdowns — two more catches and six more scores than he had against any other opponent. The only team he had more career receiving yards against was the Eagles (1,642).
Swaim could only dream about those kind of numbers, as he entered Sunday night’s showdown against the Giants at AT&T Stadium with 12 career catches for 112 yards and no touchdowns.
“Nothing but respect for the guy,” Swaim said during the week. “I’m becoming aware of how impressive what he did was, because I’m playing more and my role’s expanding. I’m starting to understand that. I’ve always had an appreciation for his work ethic and his attitude.”
Witten retired and went to the broadcast booth for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.” Swaim wasn’t expected to fill the huge shoes left behind by himself, even if the Cowboys didn’t exactly make an impact move in the offseason to account for the future Hall-of-Famer’s departure. They have four tight ends on their roster, but only Swaim entered Sunday with an NFL reception under his belt.
Blake Jarwin, an undrafted free agent, spent most of last year on the practice squad until being promoted to the 53-man roster and playing in one game. Rico Gathers was a 2016 practice squad member before being on injured reserve in 2017. And Dalton Schultz was the Cowboys’ fourth-round pick out of Stanford in April.
“We have a good group and we work hard,” said Swaim, a 2015 seventh-round pick from Texas. “For us, we’re not trying to replicate anything. We’re just trying to be the best we can be. I think it would be wrong to try to fit ourselves into a mold of something.”