FRISCO, Texas – Expectations aren’t new for the CeeDee Lamb wide receiver. He knew he would have them wherever he would play as a pick in the first round, but they get stronger when you wear number 88 for the Dallas Cowboys.
In four games, Lamb has 21 captures for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
Drew Pearson, who made the number 88 famous for the Cowboys, had a catch for 15 yards in his first four games in 1973.
Michael Irvin, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who also wore the number 88, had 11 catches for 228 yards and one TD in his first four games.
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The next number 88, Dez Bryant, the Cowboys first-round pick in 2010, had 17 catches for 180 yards in his first four games.
No rookie receiver in team history has had more catches in Lamb’s first four games. Only Hall of Famer Bob Hayes had more yards (324) and touchdowns (four) in the first four games.
“The games are coming to me,” Lamb said. “There is no need to rush everything.”
Lamb is making an impression that hasn’t been made by a Cowboys rookie since Ezekiel Elliott and quarterback Dak Prescott returned in 2016. Leighton Vander Esch, the 2018 Cowboys first-round pick, made the Pro Bowl and has set the team’s rookie record for tackling one season (176), but started in one of his first four games with Dallas.
Lamb is one of six rookies in NFL history to open his career with at least five receptions in each of his first four games. He leads all rookies in tricks and touchdowns and is second to Justin Jefferson of Minnesota in yards (348).
“CeeDee is a very passionate guy. He loves the game and studies his tail. He works hard,” Prescott said. “I mean, this is how you get respect in the NFL is by doing those things. He’s been doing it since Day 1, he’s been here. You don’t necessarily have to think when he’s talking or saying things in the important moments that he’s a rookie.”
Elliott and Prescott quickly proved to be special. Elliott had two 100-yard efforts in his first four games and three total touchdowns. Prescott didn’t have an interception in his first five games. They took the Cowboys to a 3-1 record after four games and a 13-3 overall record.
Stephen A. Smith says the Cowboys’ defensive difficulties are on the coaching staff, as Dallas tries to avoid a 1-4 start in Week 5 against the Giants.
With the Cowboys at 1-3, Lamb is in the middle of the total defeat suffered in three seasons in Oklahoma.
“It’s just, man, it’s a long season. A lot of people will say that, but I mean, it goes to [Week] 17, “said Lamb.” And we’re just in game 4. So a lot of things can change. “
The Cowboys didn’t expect Lamb to be available with pick # 17. They were looking at Clemson cornerback AJ Terrell, who was picked a seat ahead of Lamb by the Atlanta Falcons, and LSU pass-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, who went to the Jacksonville Jaguars three choices later. Given the defensive difficulties of the Cowboys in four games, one might expect some remorse that the team did not choose a defender, but there is none.
“CeeDee, he just has the skill, and on top of that, he has the heart and plays hard,” Elliott said. “This is what you cannot teach.”
Lamb’s transition was facilitated by the presence of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup alongside. He didn’t have to go in and immediately lift a tiring passing game.
The receiver group structure is something manager Mike McCarthy had with the Green Bay Packers. When the Packers selected Jordy Nelson in the second round in 2008, the team had Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. When they selected Randall Cobb in the second round in 2011, they already had Nelson, Jennings and Driver. When they selected Davante Adams in the second round in 2014, they had Cobb and Nelson.
“It was a huge plus for us at Green Bay. Donald Driver was an established veteran and we brought Greg and then Jordy and then James Jones and Randall Cobb and then Davante,” McCarthy said. “There is a passing of the baton. There are veterans who care for young boys, showing them the way. … Veteran leadership in every location room is important … when veterans can care for and help educate younger kids, not just on the outline of what to do but how to do it, how to train and all those nuances that take place with these professionals. “
Lamb felt the benefit.
“For one, it takes a lot of pressure off me. For two, I feel like I can’t double any of us. And three, you get a lot of man-to-man cover. That goes back to # 2,” Lamb said. “You learn from guys like that, who have a pretty big experience, you know, any question I ask, they have the answer. And they’re young. It doesn’t get any better than that, just having younger, older guys on the field with me, guiding me. They’ve seen everything I’ve seen. “
In his second game with the Oakland Raiders in 2015, Cooper had his first 100-yard exit: seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens. In Lamb’s second game, he had his first 100 yarder – six taken for 106 yards against the Falcons.
Lamb played the key to the winning drive with a 24-yard reception. Prior to Greg Zuerlein’s winning kick, Cooper tapped Lamb on the shoulder and told him to look at the overhead digital scoreboard showing his stats. Cooper rethought his second game.
“For me, it just gave me the certainty of being able to play in this league,” Cooper said. “Those 100 yards are that code where a receiver can claim to have had a good game, so I felt my second game of my career was a good game and I felt it was something I could do over and over.”
So does the lamb.
“I have that photographic memory stuck in my head,” he said. “I hope to see him again and again. I’m excited. Can’t wait.”