FRISCO, Texas – Everything about the Cowboys' offseason program is technically voluntary until the veteran minicamp in mid-June.
Yet Dez Bryant has been impressed with the attendance and work the players have put in since workouts began April 18 – the foundation for training camp in late July, and eventually, the Sept. 10 season opener against the New York Giants.
"The offseason's been great. A lot of guys have been in," Bryant said Monday from the Reliant Home Run Derby at Dr. Pepper Ballpark. "It's not mandatory, and when you see a lot of guys there I think that's the most beautiful thing we could get from an organization standpoint. It shows how much every guy cares. Everybody's approach, the attitude is on point.
"I'm not going to give any expectations, but from what's going on right now, it's a beautiful thing."
Expectations will be high. The Cowboys tied a franchise record with 13 wins last season with a young nucleus. For second-year players such as quarterback Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, this is their first full NFL offseason. The team is currently in Phase 2, which includes three weeks of on-field individual and team work on a "separates" basis, though live-contact offense vs. defense are not permitted.
For Bryant, it's the first time he's been able to fully participate in a couple of years.
In 2015, he mostly stayed away from the voluntary workouts while negotiating a long-term contract. Last spring, the Cowboys were deliberate with his workload coming off foot and ankle surgery.
Bryant made 13 starts last season and made his third Pro Bowl with 50 catches for 796 yards and a team-best 8 touchdowns. He missed three games in October with a hairline fracture in his knee.
"My health is outstanding. Extremely excited," he said. "My mind is right. Being able to have a full offseason under my belt, I'm expecting good things from myself, but I'm going to leave it at that."