IRVING, Texas --Dez Bryant knows if he keeps working and playing hard, breakout performances will follow.
The Cowboys' second-year receiver has 46 catches for 706 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He showed signs of becoming a go-to receiver for Tony Romo in Miles Austin's absence, making overtime catches that put the offense in field goal position in a recent win over Washington and a recent loss to Arizona.
Austin's return from a hamstring injury excites Bryant because it will create more matchup issues for defenses. Coverages can't key on everyone.
"Any one of us could make a play," Bryant said Thursday. "It could be a game where Laurent (Robinson), Miles, K.O. (Kevin Ogletree) or me don't catch a ball at all, but I guarantee those next couple of guys are going to make big plays and have a huge game and we're still going to win a game."
Even when there's a stretch without a catch, Bryant is finding another way to contribute late. His 20-yard punt return on Thanksgiving led to Dan Bailey's winning field goal against Miami, and he ripped off another return near the end of regulation against Arizona that was nullified by a penalty.
"I'm always in rhythm," Bryant said of staying patient. "In that case, I'd be screwed on punt returns. My mind would be gone.
"It's just a lot of different ways that you can make a play, because you know who you've got on offense. This is a blessed team when it comes to the offense."