How He Fits in Dallas: TE Anthony Fasano

One thing people have discussed ever since Bill Parcells has taken over in Valley Ranch is that he seemingly wants to re-create his most successful teams from years past by reviving his old players.

TE Anthony Fasano Profile

To that end, the Cowboys' coach has brought in a slew of his former players – Terry Glenn, Keyshawn Johnson, Drew Bledsoe, etc. – to Valley Ranch, hoping to coax encore performances from their years at his previous coaching stops.

Given a magic wand, Parcells undoubtedly would love to knock the dust off of Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Ottis Anderson. With that not exactly a viable option, the Cowboys have tried to emulate Parcells' favorite tight end, Mark Bavaro, by drafting a player who appears to be Bavaro's clone.

Anthony Fasano (6-foot-4, 259, 4.71) looks like Bavaro, plays like Bavaro and even hails from the same alma mater, Notre Dame. When Parcells lost one of his favorite Cowboys – Dan Campbell – to free agency (Detroit), a blocking tight end to complement pass-catching Jason Witten became a necessity.

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Always a bruising blocker, Fasano proved to be a solid receiving threat as well in 2005. After catching 27 passes as a sophomore in 2004, Fasano busted out this year with 45 receptions (for 564 yards and a pair of touchdowns) in new Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis's pass-happy offense, while maintaining his reputation as a proficient blocker, serving almost as a sixth offensive lineman. A Parcells disciple, Weis asks his tight ends to handle responsibilities similar to those that will be asked of Fasano by the Cowboys.

For a player of Fasano's size and brawn, he's a surprisingly legitimate receiver. He is never going to run away from defenders like San Francisco draftee Vernon Davis (but to be fair, neither is any other tight end in this year's draft), but he is adept at finding seams in a defense and using his hands to gain separation from defenders.

Make no mistake, the Cowboys are not bringing him in to replace Witten as the team's primary pass-catching tight end. His job is going to be helping keep Bledsoe upright and in one piece by helping out with the blocking on one side of the offensive line or the other. But he also could slide under the radar as a viable receiving threat in short-yardage and red-zone scenarios.

Fasano also will allow the Cowboys more offensive flexibility because he can team up with Witten in the two-tight end sets that the Cowboys will use more of next fall. Jerry Jones said the team will run more offensive sets with two tight ends and two wide receivers. If Fasano was nothing more than a blocker, the set would not fool any defenses. But the fact that he is a very capable blocker and a legitimate receiver means the formation will allow the Cowboys to help keep defenses honest.


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