IRVING, Texas– It's amazing the difference a week off can make, as the Cowboys' injury report surely shows.
Dez Bryant has been back in the lineup since Nov. 1, but that entire stretch has hardly been healthy. If the recovery from his broken foot wasn't enough, Bryant tweaked his knee and his ankle in the Nov. 15 loss to Philadelphia.
He's been limited in every practice since October while he copes with those issues – up until Thursday. Following the first practice of preparation for the Redskins, Bryant said he was feeling at his best – or at least his best this season.
"I'll tell you this: This is the best I ever felt," he said. "This is the best I ever felt – I don't want to say ever. Since I've been back playing."
So maybe this isn't the best Bryant has ever felt. But the injury report agrees with his assessment. The Pro Bowl receiver was a full participant in Thursday's practice, which is the first time that's happened since before the season opener.
"Yeah, this is the best I've felt I tell you that," Bryant said. "I'm still getting better. I'm getting better. I'm extremely … I'm more confident."
The Cowboys no doubt hope that's the case. It's been a trying season for Bryant, to say the least. On top of the five-game absence with the broken foot, he hasn't enjoyed his customary dominance when he has played. In six games, he's managed 23 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns – an average of just four catches and 47 yards per game.
In Bryant's best game of the season -- his five-catch, 104-yard effort against the Eagles – he tweaked his knee making a contested touchdown catch. That might be the latest twist in what's been an unlucky season for the Cowboys, but Bryant didn't want to hear it.
"I could have easily put this thing in the bag with the injuries that I'm dealing with, but I'm not," he said. "I'm not here to make no excuses."
Instead, Bryant said he intends to improve – and the plan is a pretty simple one.
"I'm trying my best to get right. For me to get right I got to be practicing, I got to be out there in games to get back to the level I want to be at," he said. "I'm feeling better by the day. This is the best I've felt in practice. This has been my real, full practice."