Nick Eatman is the author of the recently published *If These Walls Could Talk: Dallas Cowboys, a collection of stories from the Cowboys' locker room, sideline and press box, with a foreword written by Darren Woodson.*
IRVING, Texas– Limited or not, he was out there.
And from his teammates' point of view, that sounds like a big step in the right direction.
Dez Bryant practiced with the Cowboys Wednesday for the first time since suffering the fractured foot in the first game of the season. The star wide receiver went through individual drills and then some 7-on-7 work but was held out of action during the team period.
But for a Wednesday, with two more practices and a Saturday walk-through still to go before Sunday's game with Seattle, that's a good start for Bryant and his chances of playing this week.
But whether his teammates were throwing to him, blocking for him or having to cover him, Bryant's teammates all seemed upbeat about seeing No. 88 back in action.
"His presence is definitely felt around here," said veteran cornerback Brandon Carr. "His demeanor is added, his vocal leadership. We appreciate him being back and look forward to seeing him make some plays."
Carr added that Bryant didn't seem to be any different than his usual self.
"Same Dez," Carr said. "Walking around with extreme confidence, just getting himself ready to play for Sunday."
Center Travis Frederick calls Bryant one of his "favorite guys on the team" and said the energy he brings to even a practice is unmatched.
"Absolutely, you see it every day he's out there he's a guy with high energy" Frederick said. "He loves being around the guys. He loves to practice. He loves football, probably more than anybody I've ever seen before. When you see him out there wanting to play the game, you can really feel that and feed off of that."
The only guy who hasn't played or even practiced with Dez is the one who could be affected the most. Quarterback Matt Cassel said he was more than happy to be tossing a few throws to Bryant.
"It was great to see him out there. I think everyone is excited to have him out there," Cassel said. "Obviously I haven't had any time with him and so just being out there and it was good for him. He's a special player. We all know what he's capable of. We're happy to have him back. Hopefully we can get some timing down in the next few days."
[embeddedad0]And timing was certainly an issue for Cassel and the other receivers last week in his Cowboys debut against the Giants. All three of his interceptions were a result of timing patterns where he either threw the ball too late, behind the receiver or to the sideline when the receiver had already cut off his route.
So can Dez and Cassell get enough practice together to help with that?
"Well, we'll see how it goes this week," Cassel said. "Every little bit helps. The more reps we can get together, the better."
In 2008, Cassel relieved an injured Tom Brady in New England started 15 games for the Patriots, who still had Randy Moss. The QB was asked how a dynamic No. 1 receiver helps the entire offense.
"I think it creates an opportunity every time it's 1-on-1," Cassel said. "When you have a guy like that, you can give him opportunities down the field and you know it's going to be his ball or nobody's. And that's always a great thing to have when you're a quarterback."
It sounds like it was the same feeling for players at all positions as well.
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