There were rumblings ahead of the 2021 season that CeeDee Lamb would take the reins as the Dallas Cowboys’ No. 1 receiver.
Ahead of the 2022 campaign, there are no questions about it.
With Amari Cooper gone, Lamb is the anointed No. 1 and he’s elated at the proposition.
“It’s a dream that I’ve always wanted to live and now that I’m actually living it, I feel like it’s my opportunity to fulfill it,” Lamb said Wednesday, via the team website’s Rob Phillips. “So I’m looking at it as an opportunity.”
Is it an opportunity that the 23-year-old is ready for, though?
“I’ve been ready,” he said. “That’s just me and my competitiveness. That’s in my nature. It’s kind of how we grew up playing football. I’m always ready for my name to be called.”
Statistically, Lamb was the Cowboys’ No. 1 wide receiver last year, leading Dallas with 120 targets, 79 receptions and 1,102 yards. As a rookie, Lamb was second in targets (111), catches (74) and yards receiving (935) — all behind Cooper. But in 2021, Lamb had 16 more targets than Cooper, 11 more catches and 237 more yards. The numbers leaned to Lamb being No. 1 in 2021 and now there’s no doubt.
With Cooper having been traded to the Cleveland Browns, Lamb gets the tag as the No. 1 WR in the Dak Prescott-led offense. In addition to losing Cooper, the team also parted ways with Cedrick Wilson, who signed with the Miami Dolphins. Thus, Lamb and the returning Michael Gallup should see an increase in targets and opportunities.
“This is a great opportunity for him personally,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said of Lamb. “I think just the way we’ve established the offense, particularly in the passing game, the ability for those guys to play different positions, to create matchups and make it harder on the defense to double you and those type of things — my point is, playing in the slot a lot last year and now playing the flanker position (where Cooper played).
“And we understand his rise in Year 3 that he’s going to get a lot more attention from the defense. But he’s doing all of the little things that are needed to get him ready to be the No. 1 guy.”
There’s likely to be added pressure and focus on Lamb this season, but the 2022 Pro Bowler has shown he has the talent to succeed in Dallas since he fell to them at No. 17 in the 2020 NFL Draft.
With plenty of questions surrounding the Cowboys after losing Cooper, Wilson, defensive end Randy Gregory and others, Lamb will need to step into the No. 1 role and step up, never mind having already turned in two stellar NFL campaigns. But, as mentioned, the Oklahoma product believes he’s “been ready.”
Regardless of any new or expanded role, Lamb is simply ready to do what it takes to aid the Cowboys in their quest to repeat as NFC East titlists.
“Most importantly just stepping up regardless of any situation — first down, second down, just always being that guy that everyone can count on,” he said. “I want to be that guy.”
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