Kenny Golladay wasn’t exactly sure how many passes came his way last Sunday.
That’s a good thing.
"I really didn’t count," he said. "When you’re actually seeing the ball a little bit more, you don’t even start counting. But you know if you get two targets."
Those days of such minimal usage appear to be in the past. It’s one of the big changes to the offense since coordinator Jason Garrett was fired, this tendency to look to their best and highest-paid receiver. While Golladay had just three catches in last Sunday’s win over the Eagles — two of them for 18-yard gains and key first downs that led to an important field goal in the fourth quarter — he was targeted seven times, twice in the end zone.
"I know there were some opportunities out there that I wish I had back, like on those two fade balls," he said of the potential scoring plays, the first of which likely should have drawn a pass interference flag. "I don’t want to leave it in the ref’s hands. I’ve just got to do better. But I feel like I made plays down the stretch when we needed it."
Now he gets to see if he can make plays down the stretch of the season. He has yet to score a touchdown and has only 23 catches for 372 yards in his eight games (he missed three with a knee injury). If he plays in each of the six remaining games, that projects to about 40 catches for 651 yards this season, a disappointing haul for such a highly touted free-agent signing.
"Of course, that’s not what I wanted coming into the season," he said. "But I still have games left."
Games in which he should expect to be kept busy — and kept from counting.
Notes & quotes: WR Sterling Shepard (quadriceps) and TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle) were limited participants in Thursday’s practice. It was the first time they took part in team drills since their injuries on Nov. 1 and Nov. 22, respectively . . . WR Kadarius Toney (oblique/quadriceps) was among those who did not practice and is not expected to play on Sunday . . . Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said his main objective each week is to neutralize the game-wrecking players on an opponent’s roster and "force them to play lefthanded." When it was pointed out that Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa actually is lefthanded and should be forced to play righthanded, Graham said: "That’s clever. I wish I had thought of that."