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Cowboys Receivers Not Flinching From The Spotlight During Dez's Absence

IRVING, Texas – It's hard to miss Dez Bryant when he arrives in the Cowboys' locker room.

The All-Pro wide receiver is usually listening to music, and he's always talking – ribbing teammates and joking with reporters about college football, among other conversations. When he speaks to the media on Thursdays during the season, the crowd at his locker is typically three or four deep.

Needless to say, it presented quite a contrast this Thursday, the first since Bryant was sidelined by foot surgery. With no crowd around Bryant's empty locker, there were instead scattered groups talking to his fellow receivers – the ones who will be asked to fill his shoes Sunday in Philadelphia.

"These are the moments that you train for. I don't have any pressure," Terrance Williams said. "I've just got to go out there and run the plays that Coach calls and what Tony gives me. Stick to my fundamentals and play fast – what got me here."

The same holds true for Devin Street, who is poised to see the biggest increase in his workload since he arrived on the roster last year. The second-year receiver had a strong debut in the preseason but was hampered at times by an ankle injury. It's an opportunity that's been a while in the making for the fifth-round pick out of Pittsburgh.

"I'm anxious, of course – you dream about it as a kid, playing in the NFL," Street said. "Now the time is here, where you get to go out there and really get some plays under your belt. So I'm anxious, but at the same time it's football. I'll be calm and ready to go out there."

That's been the refrain throughout the week, as the Cowboys prepare to play at least the next month or so without one of the NFL's best receivers. The loss even prompted a trade, as Dallas sent a conditional draft pick to Oakland for a physical presence in 6-3 wide out Brice Butler.

"It says a lot," Butler said of the trade. "I've been waiting for a team to call my number and rely on me to go out there and make plays, so I'm excited for the opportunity."

It remains to be seen whether Butler will even get that opportunity on Sunday, but it's going to take all hands on deck to help replace the loss 1,320 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. It's a problem offensive coordinator Scott Linehan was asked to address, and a problem he framed through a more positive light.

"Let's be honest, you're going to miss the guy," Linehan said of Bryant. "But what it does do is it makes you step back and realize, in our case, that we have really good weapons at other positions – and throughout we've got some guys who have really stepped up."

Williams, Cole Beasley and Jason Witten are the primary trio that come to mind, but Linehan has other options he can turn to against the Eagles' defense. Lance Dunbar led the Dallas offense in receptions in Week 1, and Gavin Escobar opened the season with a receiving touchdown.

None of that is to deny the impact that No. 88 can make on a game, Linehan allowed. But there's plenty left to feel good about – and from a variety of different positions.

"I just feel really good about our complementary guys becoming a little more primary guys and seeing how that works," Linehan said. "I'm really excited to watch these guys step up and have more increased roles with more opportunities."

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