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Cowboys TE Jake Ferguson wants to 'make that exact same jump' in 2024 after first Pro Bowl bid

With question marks at receiver, the Dallas Cowboys are counting on tight end Jake Ferguson to continue his upward trajectory.

As a rookie in 2022, the fourth-round tight end generated 19 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns. In 2023, he exploded for 71 grabs, 761 yards and five scores. Ferguson aims to make a similar leap in Year 3.

"I need to make that exact same jump [as last year], but make it even bigger," Ferguson said, via the team's official website. "In this league, you can't get complacent. You've got to keep getting better, and that's what I intend to do. We've got great vets in our facility -- Brandin [Cooks] and Dak [Prescott] -- and they teach you how to take care of your body and how to take care of your mind as you start to get older.

"I'm 25 and I'm like, 'Ooh, I am kinda getting old for a football player.' I've got to start making those strides and get better every year."

The 6-foot-5 target owns the size, speed, and hands combo to be a deadly threat in the Cowboys offense. Ferguson's athleticism also allows for yards after the catch. In 2023, his 100 YAC over expected finished fourth among all tight ends, per Next Gen Stats.

The question in Dallas is whether Ferguson can repeat and improve upon his performance or whether he's hit his ceiling.

"He had a good year last year, but can you do it again?" tight ends coach Lunda Wells said. "The legends and the great players do it consistently over the years -- Jason Witten, Travis Kelce, Tony Gonzalez; you can go down the list -- the great ones do it consistently every year. You can't be one and done or a one-hit wonder, because those get lost.

"If you wanna be great, you've gotta do it every year, consistently, and I think that's the challenge he understands. And that's the best thing: he understands that. … [He] set the standard last year, now let's make sure we do it even better, like the great ones do."

The Cowboys' offense is littered with uncertainties. Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb are up for new contracts. Thirty-year-old Brandin Cooks could be slowing down. Jalen Tolbert, Jalen Brooks, and KaVontae Turpin are battling for roles. With an aging Ezekiel Elliott, the backfield doesn't have a workhorse.

Ferguson leaping into the upper echelon of tight ends would go a long way to smooth things out. He's already projected as at least Dallas' No. 3 pass-catching option. It's easy to see the TE pushing to No. 2 behind Lamb.

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