Despite a sluggish start to his season, veteran Cowboys tight end Jason Witten has managed to catch 97 passes in 2012, his career high. Witten now improbably sits within striking distance of the all-time single-season record for receptions by a tight end, set when Tony Gonzalez caught 102 passes in 2004.
Witten suffered a lacerated spleen during the preseason, and played only sparingly in September. He managed just eight catches for 76 yards in the Cowboys' first three games. A thirteen-catch performance against Chicago on October 1 signaled Witten's return to his usual prominent position in the Dallas offense. He recorded a season-high 18 catches against the Giants on October 28, and has averaged 6.6 catches a game over his last seven contests.
As Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com reported, Witten has targeted the reception record:
"There're a lot of good tight ends out there, and to be able to be even thinking about passing that record that's stood the course for almost 10 years by the greatest tight end that's ever played, to break that, no question it's special."
Dallas faces New Orleans -- and their 31st-ranked passing defense -- Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. They close their regular season December 30 against Washington.