Things aren't going as planned for Blake Jarwin in 2021. The talented tight end looked forward to regaining prime form in 2021, after suffering a torn ACL in Week 1 of the 2020 season -- thrusting backup Dalton Schultz into the lead role. Schultz went on to have a breakout season that's rolled over into the current one, while Jarwin has seen his targets dwindle. And having now suffered a hip injury in the Dallas Cowboys victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 8, he's been moved to injured reserve, a source tells CBS Sports.
This means Jarwin will miss a minimum of three games, opening the door for Schultz to continue as the definitive starter and for the Cowboys to get a better look at Sean McKeon, a player who showed a ton of promise in camp and in the preseason before suffering an ankle injury that landed him on injured reserve. He returned to practice Oct. 13, and has since been moved to the active 53-man roster. He'll compete with veteran Jeremy Sprinkle for reps, but it seems a foregone conclusion the Cowboys will lean more heavily on getting a regular season look at McKeon in tandem with Schultz.
Jarwin has proven himself a playmaker when given the chance and as one of Prescott's favorite targets in the past, but in his absence, Schultz took a gargantuan leap forward and finally established himself as a viable starter in the league as well. Schultz took full advantage of his 14 starts in 2020, delivering career-highs in receiving yards (618) and touchdowns (four) despite a carousel of mostly dismal quarterback play following the loss of Prescott to a season-ending injury in Week 5.
When Jarwin does return, he'll potentially have to contend with McKeon as well, if the young upstart can impress over the next three games.
The Cowboys also activated linebacker Francis Bernard from injured reserve, where's he's been since the preseason due to a hamstring injury. Bernard rejoins the team only days after they were forced to place rookie fourth-round pick Jabril Cox with a torn ACL, and he's a talent that can double as a core special teamer who makes it easy for them to opt against revisiting a reunion with Jaylon Smith, whom the Green Bay Packers waived less than a month after the Cowboys did so themselves. Bernard is a former undrafted free agent signed by the Cowboys in 2020 and, like McKeon, also showed up big in camp and in the preseason before going down ahead of the season opener with an injury.
Both will now get a chance to show their respective coordinator what they're capable of.
Excited about the Cowboys season? We are too! Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from Patrik Walker, who's on the ground in Dallas. Plus, get the latest Dak Prescott news and much more from our team of experts. If you already have the app, you need to set the Cowboys as your favorite team for up-to-the-second news and analysis.