SAN ANTONIO (AP) — At first glance it seems like a comforting note for the Dallas Cowboys: All 10 players who caught passes last season, led by 1,000-yard receivers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn, are back.
Except the only two wide receivers other than Owens and Glenn in that group are No. 3 receiver Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd, whose 15 games as a rookie were mostly on special teams with only five catches.
The other seven receivers in training camp have even less experience than Hurd — and not even one catch in the NFL.
At least the young receivers are getting plenty of work in training camp — and chances to work with starting quarterback Tony Romo — since Glenn is out at least another week after arthroscopic knee surgery and coach Wade Phillips has had Owens take multiple days off to rest his sore legs and hamstrings.
“It’s a great opportunity for the younger guys,” Phillips said. “You want to see if they can play in this league and play well.”
The Cowboys expect to throw more with new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, and their top two receivers are 33 and in their 12th seasons. So Dallas needs to find some extra help.
Crayton has filled in primarily for Glenn, moving from side to side in different formations. He had a career-high 36 catches while playing in every game last season, his third with the Cowboys since being a seventh-round pick in 2004. He signed a one-year, $1.3 million tender during the offseason to stay.
“With the offense we have, you're going to be moved around a lot. You want a chance to show you can play across the board,” Crayton said. “It’s not complicated. It’s not like I’ve never played outside. Sometimes last year, T.O. and Terry were on the same side and I was flanked by myself. It’s nothing you really have to adjust for.”
While a big season could mean a big payday for Crayton, he is not looking ahead. He said he prepared longer than usual during the offseason getting ready.
“I’ve got a one-year deal and I’m playing in 2007,” he said. “I’m not worried about 2008 or beyond. That will take care of itself later on.”
At times in practices, Crayton lines up opposite Owens — or Hurd, when T.O. is told by coaches to take it easy. Owens practiced for the second straight day Friday.
Hurd made an impression as an undrafted rookie at training camp last year when he worked extensively with Owens, who missed significant time then with a hamstring injury.
“Things aren’t different because it’s a whole new offense, and a whole new perspective of what they want from me,” the 22-year-old Hurd said. “I’ve gotten into my groove catching the ball. When I get into my groove, it’s just a steamroller just rolling. It’s hard to stop.”
Like Crayton, Hurd can move around and play from different spots.
The rest of the receiving group includes Miles Austin and Jamaica Rector, both second-year players who have been on special teams but have no catches. Rector has been held out of a couple of practices because of sore knees. Damarius Bilbo, a second-round pick at safety who played receiver in college, took some offensive snaps for the first time Thursday.
There are also three rookie free agents and fourth-round pick Isaiah Stanback, who has missed workouts because of shin splints.
“We’re trying to develop them,” Phillips said. “This is a good time for them to step up.”