Crayton settled in as Cowboys' No. 2 receiver Print
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Wednesday, 06 August 2008 11:35
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 OXNARD, Calif. (AP) -Patrick Crayton hears that outside talk about the Dallas Cowboys needing another veteran receiver, somebody in the No. 2 spot to complement Terrell Owens.
The chatter comes even though Crayton aptly handled the role last year when Terry Glenn, waived at the start of this training camp, didn't play until the regular season finale.
``I stopped thinking about that a long time ago,'' Crayton said. ``I said forget about it. I'm not going to be able to please everybody.''
Overlook for a minute the dropped pass that could have been a touchdown in the Cowboys' playoff loss to the New York Giants, and Crayton had a pretty good season overall.
Crayton, a former seventh-round pick who was a quarterback and receiver at NAIA school Northwestern Oklahoma State, set career highs with 50 catches for 697 yards and seven touchdowns last season. His TD total would have been at least tied for the most on 17 other NFL teams.
``He did a great job last year handling it, and he even knows that he's the guy with the No. 2 spot and so he's taking full advantage of it,'' receivers coach Ray Sherman said Wednesday. ``It's the same offense as last year, just a year older.''
The offense also has the same vital parts, including Tony Romo, who set team records by passing for 4,211 yards and 36 touchdowns in his first full season as the starter; Owens, who had 81 catches for 1,355 yards and a team-record 15 TDs; and tight end Jason Witten (team-high 96 catches).
``No one has to adjust to any new players coming in and stuff like that,'' Crayton said. ``We know what we want to achieve, so I think that already everybody is on the same page.''
Crayton was still primarily the No. 3 receiver going into last season, before Glenn sustained a right knee injury that required two operations and kept him out the first 15 games of the season.
Since Glenn was hurt the first day of training camp last summer, Crayton got most of the snaps with the starting offensive unit that was learning then-new coordinator Jason Garrett's scheme. That didn't change during the season.
``That saying, 'What a difference a year makes,' it's that next year and now it's really to take it to the next level,'' Crayton said. ``(Last year) was a chance to really get in a real, real comfort zone.''
Crayton, who went to high school about 20 miles from downtown Dallas, would have been eligible for free agency after last season. He never got that far, signing a $14 million, four-year deal in December even before the season was over.
``He's a smart player, and he's a dependable player,'' coach Wade Phillips said. ``He's going to be where you want him to be. Any play you call, he's going to run his route real precise, and he's kind of sneaky. ... He finds a way to get open.''
Phillips went on to compare Crayton to another receiver the coach has had: Andre Reed, who caught 951 passes for 13,198 yards and went to four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills.
For this camp, Crayton was already No. 2, even before Glenn was waived on the opening day of practice two weeks ago. Glenn didn't take part in offseason workouts after refusing to sign an injury waiver.
Owner Jerry Jones hasn't ruled out the possibility of adding another receiver before the season or even the idea of Glenn returning if he doesn't sign with another team.
But that kind of stuff doesn't bother Crayton, who is focused on his job - ``To come out here and compete, and bust my (rear end) and be there for my team,'' he said. And to hopefully have some of the same feeling as a year ago.
``We were actually having fun playing football,'' Crayton said. ``Any time you can have fun doing your job, it makes your job a lot easier.''
Notes: OTs Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo were on the field but didn't participate in the first of two practice sessions Wednesday, when the team wasn't in pads. It was another break for both players. ... Wednesday marked the last scheduled two-a-day practices in California. The team breaks camp Tuesday, then will spend three days working out in Denver with the Broncos.
 

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