IRVING, Texas– It's been a long wait for Dez Bryant, but he'll soon be able to make headlines for playing football once again.
The Cowboys' All-Pro wide out has made the news for every conceivable reason this offseason – with the exception of playing wide receiver. With his injured hamstring a distant memory, though, Bryant will be a full-go Sunday night when Dallas opens the season against New York.
"Patiently waiting," Bryant said. "Feels good to be out at practice, better yet feels good preparing for the first regular season game."
Bryant spoke at length Thursday for the first time since the early days of training camp, when he was sidelined for the majority of the preseason with a hamstring strain. In the process, he addressed the gamut of offseason topics – including his often-discussed passionate personality, and the Rolling Stone expose that shed light on his upbringing.
"Everything has been positive, I ain't asking for no apologies or none of that," he said of the article. "I'm just … you can't judge a book by its cover, you know? There's a reason if you see someone being certain ways, there's probably a reason for the actions, and I think that's where my passion comes from. I direct it in something that I love, and that's football."
That tied in nicely with another topic that has dogged Dez during the past seven months, his Cowboy-for-life contract extension. Sunday night will be Bryant's first game since he signed his five-year, $70 million contract in July.
At one point during Thursday's media session, a reporter asked Bryant if he'd still have the drive to perform having secured his future financially – a notion the Pro Bowler dismissed emphatically.
"Who wouldn't be happy? Of course I'm happy. But I'm not satisfied," he said. "I'm not saying that I'm not satisfied with what I got. I think it just makes me want to go harder, become a better player. I always feel like I never have it. I think that's another reason why I do the things that I do, because I always feel like you can always be better. I always want to be a better player."
The contract talk followed Bryant all the way up until this week, but the challenge of living up to it begins with the Giants. As has been well-covered, Bryant wasn't on-hand to work with Tony Romo and the first-team offense while he sorted out that contract situation, and the hamstring held him out of all four preseason games.
That's not a concern for Bryant, who has been a full participant in both of the Cowboys' practices so far this week.
"I think the good thing with Tony and I is we know each other very well. We have a great relationship off the field," he said. "I think when you have that, that's the best thing that you can ever have -- I'm talking amongst players. Things become naturally easy whenever you have that kind of relationship. Me being gone, I wasn't too frustrated, Romo wasn't too frustrated. I jumped back in and we did what we normally do."[embeddedad0]
It'd be a huge boost for the Cowboys if that carries over onto the playing field, given Bryant's success against their divisional rivals. In 10 career games against New York, Bryant has nabbed 52 total receptions for 818 yards and six touchdowns. Last year was especially impressive, as he tallied 16 catches for 237 yards and two scores – including a game-winner – across the two meetings.
Considering that type of production, it's understandable why Romo joked last month that, had it been necessary, he would have driven to Bryant's house and handed over his game check to keep the receiver from holding out this season.
"It just goes to show you the relationship that we have, and I believe him 100 percent. It's just something that you build over – it's just real," Bryant said. "A lot of guys don't have that, and I think that's why, us as a whole, we respect one another. I think that's why we went the distance we went last year. We can only build off that, and that's what we're going to do."