FRISCO, Texas. When he only dreamed of playing in the NFL one day, CD Lamb was able to go to a Houston Texans game. He was a running back then, so Arian Foster was his favorite player, but wide receiver Andre Johnson caught his attention.
“His physique,” the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver said. “I liked his swagger.”
When Lamb switched to a wide receiver, Johnson became one of his favorites. He took to YouTube to explore what made Johnson — a Pro Football Hall of Fame semi-finalist with 1,062 passes for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns — great.
“His first 5 yards; damn strong,” Lamb said. “So if you thought you were putting pressure on him, it’s not happening. If you win back, he will come for you. And when he got the ball, it was a problem.”
On Sunday (1300 ET, Fox), Lamb will face the Texans for the first time in his career (1-10-1). He will have about 25 family members and friends at NRG Stadium, compared to the handful who may come to AT&T Stadium for each home event.
While Lamb’s family and friends may have known of his affection for Johnson, anyone who paid attention to the Cowboys’ offensive success in the last six games saw Lamb rise to Johnson’s role in the Cowboys.
After being selected in the first round in 2020, he was expected to become in a guy who sped up last offseason when Amari Cooper was traded to the Cleveland Browns.
Heading into Week 14, Lamb is tied for ninth in the NFL in receiving yards (928), 10th in receiving yards (69), tied for ninth in touchdowns (six), tied for third in 20+ yards (18). ) and 11th among wide receivers in yards after a catch (330).
He has 98 receptions, 1,377 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I am still far from where I want to be in this position. Just like everyone else,” Lamb said. “And I’m growing up still figuring it out. But we are enjoying the process.”
Coach Mike McCarthy has a long history of preparing young wide receivers for No. 1 roles during his tenure with the Green Bay Packers. He had confidence in Lamb for everything, believing his ability to play inside and out would make him a difficult receiver to defend.
“I can go back and look at Greg Jennings, look at his possibilities. Jordie Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb, when these guys were given the opportunity to play both inside and outside, they went to a completely different level – and CeeDee is now in that mode, ”McCarthy said. .It’s exciting and you can see the confidence with which he runs his route, the yards after the catch… I think he does exactly what we ask him to do and he does it at a high level.”
Lamb’s numbers have increased despite playing just six full games this season with quarterback Dak Prescott, who suffered a fractured thumb in the fourth quarter of season one. Since returning, Prescott has 36 catches for 519 yards and four touchdowns. Thus, he would finish the season with 17 games, 105 receptions for 1,471 yards and 11 touchdowns.
“We’re cooking now,” Lamb said.
They still have some communication issues, such as Prescott’s midfield interceptions against the Chicago Bears (Week 8) and Packers (Week 10).
However, their run time, which began during the 2020 pandemic in Prescott’s backyard, is paying off.
“He’s laying out a route,” Prescott said, “I’m going back to him [and] say, “Don’t try to run this route the way PowerPoint says. If you feel this guy and are ready to take that step, you do it. I follow you, I trust you. And I know that you will do it with speed. So just confess to it and I’ll make it work.”
“I just think that with this constant communication and continuing to spend more time on tasks and representatives with each other, the sky is the limit. This is just a sports player who is smart and wants to do his best for this team. And it gives pleasure not only to me, but to everyone.”
Cooper Rush began his second stint with the Cowboys after Prescott suffered a compound fracture and sprained right ankle in 2020. It didn’t take long for the quarterback to figure out that Lamb would make a better receiver. When Rush made the first start of his career last season against the Minnesota Vikings, Lamb caught six passes for 112 yards.
“The way he comes out of the top of his routes and his ability to change when the ball is in the air is what… makes it easier to pass the ball to him,” Rush said. “He can change gear and follow her. He plays bigger and stronger. He is long range. So he can catch it anywhere.”
Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, he took a shallow touchdown route when he realized he had never lost after flipping a defenseman. On his final catch of the game, he chose another pass to the Indianapolis 4-yard line by running into a quarterback.
“I mean, if you watch the same games that I do, I think you can see it and feel it,” said Executive Vice President Stephen Jones. “He just plays and you see his confidence grow. Duck’s confidence in him is growing.”
Lamb continues to learn. When Cooper was with the Cowboys, the recipients talked about running tricks along the route. He keeps watching YouTube.
“I watched what made guys great,” he said.
He studied Dez Bryant at the height of his popularity in 2014–2015. He studied Odell Beckham Jr., even Percy Harvin.
“It wasn’t about the physique, because I feel like if you’re good at football, bro, you’ll be playing football,” said the 200-pound, 6-foot-2 Lamb. “Look at [Philadelphia Eagles receiver] DeVonta Smith. My man is 175 years old, but he is a baller. If you give him the ball in his hands or make him run the route, he will win. Height, weight, none of that mattered to me. It’s what you do that made you so great. For example, what is it?
Maybe some kid in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolis is now looking at Lamb the way he looked at Johnson. Studying his first 5 yards, his ability to catch the ball and his run after the catch.
“I want it,” Lamb said. “It all comes from the game. This is the game of generations and it will continue to grow. And then when that happens, the youth will be better than us, because they used what we did to succeed. [and] now put it in them and add your own little twist. This is what I did for the group that came before me. I used bits and pieces and then took it between them and then added my own little flavor.”