The Dallas Cowboys' receiving options on third down for rookie quarterback Dak Prescott include wide receivers Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams, tight end Jason Witten, and running back Ezekiel Elliott. But the most dangerous player may be Cole Beasley.
The 5-foot-8, 180-pound wide receiver is tied for third in the NFL in third-down receptions with 17, trailing only the Oakland Raiders' Amari Cooper and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Mike Evans with 18 each. Beasley has gained 181 yards and one touchdown on those 17 catches.
Beasley's prowess could mean a long day for Ravens nickel back Jerraud Powers, who is usually matched up against an opponent's slot receiver. Powers said he is not surprised by Prescott's reliance on Beasley.
"He's probably one of the better slot receivers in the league," the 5-10, 193-pound Powers said. "He's very crafty, very savvy at what he does. He catches the ball well. He's definitely a target that Dak feels comfortable with. With Beasley, he's a great route runner, and he's tough. I always give respect to the smaller guys in the league like myself because I know how hard it is to establish yourself and make a name for yourself. So I have a ton of respect for Beasley and what he's done."
Dallas coach Jason Garrett said Beasley's strength is an ability to find open spaces.
"He is not the most physically imposing guy, but he's one of those guys that always seems to be open," Garrett said. "If they cover him man-to-man, somehow he gets open. If they cover him in zone, somehow he finds a way to get open. He's very quarterback-friendly. The quarterbacks love throwing to him. He's just a good football player who makes quarterbacks' lives better."
Powers has fared well recently, sacking Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a 21-14 win on Nov. 6 and intercepting Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown in a 28-7 victory on Nov. 10. Powers credited his improvement to his body finally getting healthy.
"My body is starting to feel good, and I've been practicing well, and it's starting to show," he said. "I've been getting some opportunities. I've been playing well in the role that I have. I just haven't had as many opportunities. I'm just trying to take advantage of it."