As difficult as it might be to conceive, there’s still room for CeeDee Lamb to improve. For as elite as his breakout rookie season was with the Dallas Cowboys after getting the call as the 17th-overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, to say he’s already reached his ceiling would be as ridiculous as it would be naive. Yes, he broke the team’s record for most receptions as a rookie — previously held by the legendary “Bullet” Bob Hayes — and landed a top grade from CBS Sports despite a carousel of poverty quarterback play after losing Dak Prescott for the season in Week 5.
And yes, he delivered one of the most eye-popping catches you’ve ever seen in the process, but the 22-year-old isn’t resting on his laurels. Instead of basking in his individual success from Year 1, he’s long been studying how to do more, and that’s exactly what the Cowboys were hoping for — considering their plans for him going forward. Sources tell CBS Sports that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and head coach Mike McCarthy are already working on installing more plays for Lamb that include an expanded route tree and more reps outside of the slot position.
That will open him up to be that much more of a threat in Year 2, aided by the return of Prescott.
And the two are already picking up where they left off before Prescott’s injury — putting on a show in OTAs (something Lamb didn’t have access to as a rookie due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Now donning a bracelet that reads “Grab Your Popcorn,” Lamb is leaning on a legendary quote from Hall of Famer and former Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens, warning the NFL of what’s to come. When asked directly what the saying means to him, he pointed at this play in OTAs as a matter of illustration.
“You saw it today,” he said.
Fact is, the NFL saw it in 2020 as well, when he reeled in 74 receptions for 935 yards and five touchdowns (1,017 yards and six touchdowns from scrimmage) as the team’s third option at receiver, behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. This was also achieved despite Lamb fielding throws from a struggling Andy Dalton and underdeveloped cast of other backup quarterbacks like Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert, although the latter did show some promise as potential QB2 in 2021. So his homage to Owens now makes for two Cowboys legends he’s emulating, with the other being Dez Bryant, something Lamb noted after his acrobatic catch against the Minnesota Vikings last season — also having received the blessing of Michael Irvin to follow Bryant in wearing No. 88.
Lamb plays how he practices, and he practices how he plays.
“I feel like the jump is definitely there [over last year],” he told media on Thursday. “It’s all on the future to gauge it. I am excited about the future. Can’t wait for the season. OTAs have been a big plus for me.
“… [I’m] critiquing myself on routes. Getting a lot faster and stronger. It’s a lot of things I can get better at mentally, learning the plays, dissecting the coverages. The list can go on and on.
“I am always trying to find something to work on.”
And as far as having his QB1 back in the fold and clearly not only healthy, but also having not lost a step?
“Seeing [Dak] go down in the Giants game was heartbreaking,” said Lamb. “The way handled adversity and worked himself back to feeling better and confident as he was going into last season — all good things.”
We see, literally.