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Conditioning May Spur Dez's Breakthrough

When discussing Dez Bryant a couple weeks back, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones mentioned his injuries and conditioning as possible reasons he has yet to totally live up to his potential.

Now that Jones has elaborated on that opinion, it would seem less likely he was trying to take a shot at Bryant's off-the-field work ethic. It's not necessarily that Bryant was out of shape in 2011, but that he has made major, major strides in the Cowboys' offseason program this spring and summer.

When asked what gives him hope Bryant will have a breakthrough in 2012, Jones didn't hesitate.

"His conditioning," Jerry Jones said. "If we can have him better conditioned, then we've got a chance to see him focused in the latter part of games as opposed to the first part of games. There's no question in my mind that our coaching staff, Jason (Garrett) and Dez are going to work out the ways to best use him in the route tree."

Bryant has also cited his physical improvements as a reason to believe this is the year for his big leap forward.

It's also just a matter of course that Bryant will continue to progress with more experience.

"He's going into his third year with Tony (Romo)," Jones said. "Our coaches have a good feel for the things that he does best. I think all of that will come into play. If we can keep him healthy - I think he's going to be in better condition - then we could have the player here that we had thought we might get when we drafted him."

This offseason, Bryant has said he is at just 3.1 percent body fat. He intends to play at less than 215 pounds this year, down from his listed weight of 225 pounds last season.

On Wednesday, Garrett was asked about another receiver losing weight this offseason, second-year pro Dwayne Harris, and explained why it's important for players at that position to be as light as possible.

"Oftentimes receivers come into the league and they don't realize how much running they do in the NFL," Garrett said. "Sometimes these guys are a little bit bigger, thinking that's an important thing to be, 'I need to be bigger and stronger.' But my experience has been most of the receivers who play great in this league are as lean as they can be, and hopefully they're naturally strong to handle the physical nature of the position.

But you need to be able to run, and run over and over and over again, and all day long."

The sky would seem to be the limit for Bryant if he can raise his stamina, master the offense and stay healthy.

Evidently the 23-year-old has already turned the corner on his Madden game, as he revealed via a Twitpic of his statline in a single game against his brother this week.

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