IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant wouldn't be baited so easily – not this late in the season, at least.
Whether it was the Calvin Johnson debate, or the perceived sideline debates he's had with his teammates, the Cowboys' mercurial receiver has been the focus of several off-field storylines this season.
That simple fact made Bryant a prime candidate to respond to comments from Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul ahead of the teams' second meeting this season. Following New York's win Sunday against Green Bay, Pierre-Paul told reporters the Giants were going to "put it on" the Cowboys. He followed up by adding: "It's going to be a fight. It's going to be a dogfight. There's going to be a lot of blood spilled out there."
Bryant smiled ruefully when asked for his take, but he didn't bite, saying it goes with the territory of competition.
"He's supposed to feel that way," he said. "You're an opponent, and we're the opponent for them. It's great confidence."
That wasn't the only thing Bryant had to be happy about. As has been noted, Miles Austin returned to practice Monday after several weeks coping with the same hamstring injury he suffered in Week 3. Austin contributed 10 catches for 72 yards in the season-opening win against New York – a fact Bryant said could only help the Cowboys offense.
"You put a smile on my face saying that. It's going to be great – it's going to be outstanding," he said. "You've got Terrance Williams, you've got Jason Witten, you've got Miles Austin, you've got me, you've got Cole Beasley – what more can you ask for?"
The answer to that is probably more production. The offense has sputtered in recent weeks, lowlighted by a miserable 193 total yards during the Week 10 loss in New Orleans – just 44 of which belonged to Bryant. [embedded_ad]
It stands to reason the Giants will also try to limit Bryant. They held him to just 22 yards on four catches in Week 1. But on top of Austin's return, the Giants must also prepare for two more weapons – Beasley and Williams – who weren't prominently involved during the first meeting.
Bryant said that combination should make it hard for New York to focus too much on him.
"I'm just giving you my opinion -- it's going to be kind of hard. We've got some tremendous players on this team," he said. "You see Beas – if you give him space, you're dead … We got Miles back – big, shifty, strong, fast. Terrance will blow right past you."
"We have a lot of talent on this team," Bryant added. "I'm just another part to it, and whenever I have opportunities to get my hands on the ball, I'll try my best to do something with it."
As far as responding to Pierre-Paul, though, he wasn't having it.
"It ain't about proving anybody wrong," he said. "We're just trying to go out there and play some great football and try to execute the plays we practice on each and every day in practice."