IRVING, Texas – Training camp has now passed through all of the necessary levels.
There has been the three days of rookie camp at Valley Ranch, then the arrival to Oxnard, followed by the first practice on Monday and now Wednesday provided us with the first day of practice with full shoulder pads.
It's safe to say the Cowboys are well into the swing of things here.
For some, the Dez Bryant situation is way in the past and players and coaches here will try to say they're moving on. But it's still very much a hot topic and will remain that way until the NFL and/or the Cowboys figure out what, if anything, comes out of this ever-popular situation.
Will he get suspended or not? Will Bryant face any more legal issues stemming from the domestic violence arrest back on June 16, even though his mother, Angela, has decided not to press any charges against her son?
For the Cowboys, they've got some pressing questions, too. Some of them are long-term doubts, but mainly the Cowboys wouldn't mind knowing the availability of their high-flying receiver for the Sept. 5 opener against the Giants.
That question hasn't and likely won't be answered out here in Oxnard. From Jerry Jones to Stephen Jones to Jason Garrett, no one will touch that one. It's probably because it's not their decision to make and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell likely isn't sharing his plans on the matter.
As for Bryant, he has been advised not to talk to reporters, at least for a while.
Then again, Jones hasn't been short of interesting comments so far in camp. From his "glory" reference on Sunday to his playful prediction of the Giants game in the pre-camp pep rally, Jones has been rather quotable on many subjects.
That didn't change Wednesday when asked if Bryant's behavior pattern can ultimately be a long-term problem.
"We want to see a recognition of how serious he is," Jones said on Wednesday. "And we recognize the perception (of this situation) is not good. Controversy is not good. But there is also the issue of being able to rely on him, his teammates as well as his coaches and other people on the team. If we can't rely on him, there will be a lot of consequences for him."
Now the word consequences can obviously be taken several ways. Fines and suspensions are one but possibly even a decision in the future to move on from Bryant if things continue with the receiver being in the news every few months with some sort of off-the-field incident.
Speaking Wednesday on *The Dan Patrick Show, *Jones said: "He's just got to come on, step up and accept responsibility, and I think he can get there. I'm demanding that he work through it. He must do it or we can't count on him."
When asked what would happen if Bryant can't do that, Jones simply said: "We will move on."
But long before that happens, the Cowboys are still counting on and expecting big things from Bryant in a more positive fashion.
Coach Jason Garrett was asked Wednesday about Bryant's maturity and handling his off-the-field issues. He sidestepped the chance to single out Bryant, but Garrett gave an indication on what he expects in situations like these.
"I don't want to speak specifically to Dez, but I'll speak to the point about being able to compartmentalize things," Garrett said during Wednesday's daily news conference. "We talk to the players all the time about leaving the emotional baggage at the door. Everybody has issues in their lives, and we've just got to make sure we're mentally tough enough and mature enough and strong enough to say, 'OK, when it's time to go to work, playing football and coaching football, we're able to do that.' It's a theme that our players hear from me over and over again. … It's about mental discipline. The best ones are able to focus on the task at hand and we've certainly talked to (Bryant) about that as well."
In the meantime, Bryant continues to practice and is producing a daily highlight or three here on the field. The Cowboys are hoping that trend continues throughout camp and into the regular season games – all of them.