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Cowboys' Dez Bryant Just Scratching The Surface On Talent


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Cowboys' Dez Bryant just scratching the surface on talent

  • By Ian Rapoport

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Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be expected to improve upon his 63 catches and nine TDs from last season.

IRVING, Texas -- The word "potential" has haunted Dez Bryant during his young career.

It's a blessing, yes, to be gifted with the type of skills any receiver would covet. It is also a curse.

Through two injury-plagued seasons in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys wideout is still trying to figure out how good he can be. Still trying to take his raw materials and mold them into a game-changing, play-making machine who is more than the sum of his highlights.

That was on Bryant's mind as he wrapped up the first week of organized team activities at Valley Ranch. It was just moments after receivers coach Jimmy Robinson spoke of Bryant being a "work in progress."

"He did a pretty good job last year when you look at the production," Robinson said, "and hasn't even come close to scratching the surface."

Bryant heard the remarks and smiled. He took it as a compliment and a challenge.

"When I hear it, it makes me want to work harder," said Bryant, the 6-foot-2, 218-pound former first-rounder from Oklahoma State. "It's fun always going up against the challenge of what you need to."

After piling up 928 yards on 63 catches with nine touchdowns last year, Bryant wasn't satisfied with his performance. Just the opposite.

He believes he's improved mentally this offseason, noting how when coach Jason Garrett shouts out a play, Bryant is already thinking of his assignment as the call is coming out.

Yet even in the past when Bryant understood his assignment, he couldn't always perform it to the best of his ability. He suffered a thigh bruise in 2011 that caused him to miss one game and landed him on the injury report four times. But Bryant surprised reporters Wednesday by saying he never felt 100 percent healthy in 2011. Not one time.

"I don't think I was ever where I wanted to be," Bryant said in a moment of self reflection. "It was just the injuries, my performance. I didn't feel like they healed quick enough."

There were still the highlights. The 50-yard catch against the New York Giants. The winding, 42-yard rumble against the New York Jets that led him to say on the sidelines, "You better put 2-4 (Darrelle Revis) on me." The sideline sidestep against the New England Patriots that made safety Patrick Chung fall down. The second-effort 34-yarder against the St. Louis Rams.

That wasn't all he put on film, though. There were also moments of maddening inconsistency. So when Bryant went back and watched his cut-ups from 2011, he cringed a little bit. He called last year "frustrating."

"Some of the game tape that I watched from last year, I really wasn't too proud of myself," Bryant said. "I know it's because of the injuries, but I feel like this year, I'm spending more time focusing on my body and making sure everything is right."

No lockout this year has allowed him to work with strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik, one of the best in the business. Bryant reported that he's stronger than ever, feels more explosive coming out of his breaks and simply feels good. He moved to DeSoto, Texas, closer to the facility, and he's been in town all offseason. That's paid off, too.

What will Bryant's 2012 be like?

"Well, we're just going to see," Bryant said, smiling. "Just going to continue to keep working hard and we're going to see what happens."

The world will be watching, as it has always been with Bryant. So will his coaches and teammates, who rave about his highlights in practice. Just not the kind of highlights you expect.

Quarterback Tony Romo noted another impressive trait.

"You get out there and watch him, he'll finish those drills," Romo said. "He'll run 30 yards after the catch. I'll tell you what, go watch him after a catch and see what he does. Play'll be over and he'll still be running 20 more yards. He's got a great upside. He's continuing to work his butt off, he's just going to get better and better every year."

The next step for Bryant is to be consistent. It's a battle for all young players, and Bryant isn't immune. He showed strong signs in a rookie season that included 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns before breaking his fibula. Same last year, even if Laurent Robinson emerged as a go-to receiver alongside him.

Garrett wants more, especially with Robinson having moved on to Jacksonville.

"He's shown all of us that he's capable of doing a lot of great things on the field, but you have to do them play in and play out," Garrett said. "You've got to do them quarter in and quarter out, game in and game out. That's something that he, like a lot of younger players, has to get better at. It starts with practice."

Bryant's focus on film study has increased, as has his attention to detail. Can he make that next step and find out how good he really is?

"I feel like it's already much better than last year," Bryant said.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @rapsheet

Edited by Enlightened29
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Laugh it up, itll just make it sweeter when he and Austin tear apart that secondary you are so proud of. biggrin.png

Roddy White:

Rookie season - 29 catches 446 yards 3 TDs (8 games started)

2nd season - 30 catches 506 yards 0 TDs (5 games started)

Dez Bryant:

Rookie Season - 45 catches 561 yards 6 TDs (2 games started)

2nd season - 63 catches 928 yards 9 TDs (13 games started)

I guess Id make jokes too.

Edited by Enlightened29
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Dez is going to be something special, real soon. I think he's going to have his breakout year, this upcoming season.

Me too, last season he didnt have an offseason with Woicik like he will this season. He said that last year he never felt healthy, but he is now. Well, after what I saw him do vs Revis, if he wasnt healthy, then I cant wait.

Most here will miss the quote where Dez asked for Revis personally also. I love his confidence. He wants the best on him.

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The next step for Bryant is to be consistent. It's a battle for all young players, and Bryant isn't immune. He showed strong signs in a rookie season that included 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns before breaking his fibula. Same last year, even if Laurent Robinson emerged as a go-to receiver alongside him.

Garrett wants more, especially with Robinson having moved on to Jacksonville.

We liked LR, but he was just to far on our depth chart to keep. We knew he could be solid though. It took years for White to develop and thats not all Whites fault to be honest. (Warning here comes my knock on Romo) White had Vick throwing to him. Vick had no touch what so ever on the ball and would put in some lasers. 1 yard away and he was humming it in there like he was in a star trek movie.

But White also had MM and he developed not only as a dominant WR but also as a blocking (almost killed his career) physical WR and thats rare (his hands are questionable at times). But Romo should put in work with Dez to bring the best out in him. Im knocking Romos leadership here. Every time the Cowboys get a #1 wr they dance to the next guy and make him the best target while the other guy gets ran out of town.

Dez is only gonna be as good as romo makes him and believes in him. meaning get him the ball until he makes a play. Like White dropping passes. Keep throwing his way until he stops and he will evolve past any crutches he has.

here is where i tie this all in.

But a WR is only as good as the QB and with Romo slinging it every where. Dez should be a main target and that will get his game stepped up. If Romo is throwing to others then he will be slower to get that potential noticed. Like Jones for us last year. To bad he got hurt because when he did get the ball and caught it, the trade was worth it, there was no doubting what he can be (likely CJ 2.0). Romo is key though.

Edited by danight
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We liked LR, but he was just to far on our depth chart to keep. We knew he could be solid though. It took years for White to develop and thats not all Whites fault to be honest. (Warning here comes my knock on Romo) White had Vick throwing to him. Vick had no touch what so ever on the ball and would put in some lasers. 1 yard away and he was humming it in there like he was in a star trek movie.

But White also had MM and he developed not only as a dominant WR but also as a blocking (almost killed his career) physical WR and thats rare (his hands are questionable at times). But Romo should put in work with Dez to bring the best out in him. Im knocking Romos leadership here. Every time the Cowboys get a #1 wr they dance to the next guy and make him the best target while the other guy gets ran out of town.

Dez is only gonna be as good as romo makes him and believes in him. meaning get him the ball until he makes a play. Like White dropping passes. Keep throwing his way until he stops and he will evolve past any crutches he has.

here is where i tie this all in.

But a WR is only as good as the QB and with Romo slinging it every where. Dez should be a main target and that will get his game stepped up. If Romo is throwing to others then he will be slower to get that potential noticed. Like Jones for us last year. To bad he got hurt because when he did get the ball and caught it, the trade was worth it, there was no doubting what he can be (likely CJ 2.0). Romo is key though.

that was exactly my first thought(laurent)but i think dez will come along quicker

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whadda ya expect a boys beat writer to say after your owner/gm said the window is closing...hes got the tools,but time will tell if he has the maturity or work ethic to become an elite wr

Its his third year, every player is supposed to mature by their third year.

His stats are better than that of Roddy White and this point so Id tread careful if I were you.

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We liked LR, but he was just to far on our depth chart to keep. We knew he could be solid though. It took years for White to develop and thats not all Whites fault to be honest. (Warning here comes my knock on Romo) White had Vick throwing to him. Vick had no touch what so ever on the ball and would put in some lasers. 1 yard away and he was humming it in there like he was in a star trek movie.

But White also had MM and he developed not only as a dominant WR but also as a blocking (almost killed his career) physical WR and thats rare (his hands are questionable at times). But Romo should put in work with Dez to bring the best out in him. Im knocking Romos leadership here. Every time the Cowboys get a #1 wr they dance to the next guy and make him the best target while the other guy gets ran out of town.

Dez is only gonna be as good as romo makes him and believes in him. meaning get him the ball until he makes a play. Like White dropping passes. Keep throwing his way until he stops and he will evolve past any crutches he has.

here is where i tie this all in.

But a WR is only as good as the QB and with Romo slinging it every where. Dez should be a main target and that will get his game stepped up. If Romo is throwing to others then he will be slower to get that potential noticed. Like Jones for us last year. To bad he got hurt because when he did get the ball and caught it, the trade was worth it, there was no doubting what he can be (likely CJ 2.0). Romo is key though.

You really should go watch the interview of Romo on DC.com. Hes talking about the very thing you are. Romo realizes that the WRs have to work with him for them to get better. Where do you come up with that hes not or that he doesnt feel that he needs to?

Not to mention I guess its Tony's fault that Dez didnt know the offense last year. Ran lazy routes or the wrong ones. Now Dez comes out and says he was never healthy the entire year. All this is on Romo though, Im glad that Dez needs a babysitter but Austin, Witten, and Robinson never did. Now that I think of it, neither does Kevin Ogletree....I guess Romo just isnt doing his job.

Man, Tony sucks as a leader, he should get out that and peek over everyone's shoulder making sure they do what they are supposed to...I dont even know why we have position coaches, an OC, or a HC. Tony should be doing all of that...we could save money and just have Tony dont all of their jobs. Then, if he has time, he can do what he needs to do to be prepared for game day.

Edited by Enlightened29
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Its his third year, every player is supposed to mature by their third year.

His stats are better than that of Roddy White and this point so Id tread careful if I were you.

We know and we dont argue White sucked his first few years. Thought i helped explain that. Vick was the QB and Jenkins was our #1 guy. Thats why we went and got LR and HD is because we knew a change was coming between White or jenkins. White stepped up and became the man, now jenkins is gone and we got Jones.

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We know and we dont argue White sucked his first few years. Thought i helped explain that. Vick was the QB and Jenkins was our #1 guy. Thats why we went and got LR and HD is because we knew a change was coming between White or jenkins. White stepped up and became the man, now jenkins is gone and we got Jones.

So, the fact that Dez is a #2 and has been hurt his first 2 years doesnt get him a pass? I see, I guess that is reserved for guys with a falcon on their helmet...rolleyes.gif

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Its his third year, every player is supposed to mature by their third year.

His stats are better than that of Roddy White and this point so Id tread careful if I were you.

not my style kid...roddy didnt take his career as seriously as he should have until joe horn came in there and got his head right...thats when he took off...i think dez needs a vet to show him how to be a pro,then he could be all he can be like i said,hes got the tools,but does he have the mindset...maybe one day

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not my style kid...roddy didnt take his career as seriously as he should have until joe horn came in there and got his head right...thats when he took off...i think dez needs a vet to show him how to be a pro,then he could be all he can be like i said,hes got the tools,but does he have the mindset...maybe one day

What exactly is Dez's mindset? I seem to remember him saying in this very article that he wasnt 100% during the entire year last year. I also remember there was no offseason last year. So, what exactly are you talking about his attitude? Off the field youd have a point, but Im not seeing the one you are inferring to on the field.

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What exactly is Dez's mindset? I seem to remember him saying in this very article that he wasnt 100% during the entire year last year. I also remember there was no offseason last year. So, what exactly are you talking about his attitude? Off the field youd have a point, but Im not seeing the one you are inferring to on the field.

just talking about immaturity...roddy had a problem with that for a few years too...i think dez can be a great wr,he just needs to learn that to get the best out of yourself,it takes alot of hard work,not just talent

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just talking about immaturity...roddy had a problem with that for a few years too...i think dez can be a great wr,he just needs to learn that to get the best out of yourself,it takes alot of hard work,not just talent

What will Bryant's 2012 be like?

"Well, we're just going to see," Bryant said, smiling. "Just going to continue to keep working hard and we're going to see what happens."

The world will be watching, as it has always been with Bryant. So will his coaches and teammates, who rave about his highlights in practice. Just not the kind of highlights you expect.

Quarterback Tony Romo noted another impressive trait.

"You get out there and watch him, he'll finish those drills," Romo said. "He'll run 30 yards after the catch. I'll tell you what, go watch him after a catch and see what he does. Play'll be over and he'll still be running 20 more yards. He's got a great upside. He's continuing to work his butt off, he's just going to get better and better every year."

The next step for Bryant is to be consistent. It's a battle for all young players, and Bryant isn't immune. He showed strong signs in a rookie season that included 45 receptions for 561 yards and six touchdowns before breaking his fibula. Same last year, even if Laurent Robinson emerged as a go-to receiver alongside him.

Garrett wants more, especially with Robinson having moved on to Jacksonville.

"He's shown all of us that he's capable of doing a lot of great things on the field, but you have to do them play in and play out," Garrett said. "You've got to do them quarter in and quarter out, game in and game out. That's something that he, like a lot of younger players, has to get better at. It starts with practice."

Bryant's focus on film study has increased, as has his attention to detail. Can he make that next step and find out how good he really is?

"I feel like it's already much better than last year," Bryant said.

Man, sure wish his QB and HC thought he was working...

Edited by Enlightened29
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soooo....hes learning to work harder...thats good...i sincerely hope he becomes a great wr,would be a good story

I just think being away from the team during the LO last year hurt him. I think he'll be fine. Im more worried about Austin staying healthy than I am Dez producing.

Edited by Enlightened29
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