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Roster Rundown: Dez Reached Lofty Expectations In 2012
(Editor's Note: Throughout the offseason, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing each player’s impact last season and how he fits into the team's 2013 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features wide receiver Dez Bryant.)
Name: Dez Bryant
Position: Wide Receiver
Experience: 3 seasons
College: Oklahoma State
Key stat: When the second half of the season began with a road contest in Philly, Bryant went on a remarkable run, earning a touchdown in seven straight games. In that seven-game span, he had three multiple-score games and had 10 receiving touchdowns overall.
Contract Status: Signed through 2014 after agreeing to one-year deal for this season.
How He Played In 2012: You have heard me say this many times before that the type of season that Dez Bryant was able to put together really started for him when he committed himself during the offseason after his second year in the league. He showed up before the 2012 campaign physically and mentally a different player. Whether you give the credit to then-receivers coach Jimmy Robinson or Bryant himself, it was a change that needed to be made. It can be one thing to have all the talent in the world, but if you are not preparing yourself mentally and physically, you are not going to obtain the success that many believed you are capable of. Bryant is as talented of a receiver as I have ever seen and I have been around Sterling Sharpe, Mark Duper, Irving Fryar, Jimmy Smith and Michael Irvin. Bryant has rare skills, not only in
catching the ball, but also scoring from anywhere on the field. He can be a nightmare for a defensive coordinator to have to deal with because he can make plays not only between the 20s but down in the red zone as well. When you have a player that has physical tools like Bryant, he puts a great deal of pressure on your scheme. I felt where Bryant made the biggest adjustment from the previous season was his ability to finish games. There were clearly times where he would start quickly in a game than disappear for long stretches. In 2012, you didn’t see that with him. He didn’t get as frustrated and sloppy on his routes, which was a problem that he experienced before. The one thing that I have learned being around Tony Romo is if you find ways to run your routes with correct technique and proper depth, he is going to reward you with the ball. To Bryant’s credit, he learned this and you saw more chances for him during games. What Bryant is learning is that there is more to this game than just going up and getting the ball. Other than the misread against the Bears, he did a much better job of handling coverage and his “Hot” reads. The more he can develop in that area, the better opportunity that he will become an elite receiver in this league.
Where He Fits: There is no doubt that he has replaced Miles Austin as the lead dog in the sled for this team. This will be a very important offseason for Bryant in two areas. One is his physical and mental growth to build on what he was able to achieve last season, but the second area would be to quickly develop a relationship with new receivers coach Derek Dooley. I really thought that Robinson did a nice job with Bryant in the seasons that he got to work with him. I can see Dooley being very hands on with Bryant, pushing him along, which is something I believe he will welcome. I have always seen Bryant as a pleaser, so he will adjust to Dooley and visa-versa. It should be a positive fit for both parties.
Nick Eatman – Everything the Cowboys were hoping Bryant would be on the field, he showed it last year. They wanted a dynamic playmaker who could take games over. Check. They wanted a physical player who could go over the middle. Check. They wanted a guy who could at times stretch the defense with his big-play ability. Check. They wanted to see a player who loved the game so much and wanted to compete so badly that he’d play through enormous pain. Check. They wanted to see a young, raw prospect develop into a reliable player they could count on down the stretch. Check once again. So everything the Cowboys wanted out of Bryant, he showed it in 2012. Had it not been for having surgery on his finger, he would’ve likely been named to the Pro Bowl. That’s the direction his career is headed and as long as he stays out of the news for other reasons, there is no reason why Bryant won’t be considered one of the NFL’s elite receivers by the end of this year, if he’s not categorized as that already.