Now The Hard Part ...

Dez Bryant is the first wide receiver the Cowboys have drafted in the first round since Alvin Harper

lofty expectations and reporters try to get Jerry to say something to the effect of a Super Bowl prediction. And in that same press conference, Stephen Jones also sits up there although he doesn't say much, only when asked about the remaining draft picks that are unsigned.

Every year, Stephen shows some optimism and says he expects the guys to be signed soon. Just about every year, that is the case.

Now there have been a few guys that miss the first practice or two. I recall both DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears missing the first day of 2005 training camp out in Oxnard. Three years later, Felix Jones missed a practice, and Mike Jenkins showed up in the middle of the second practice, also out there in Oxnard.

It happens. Holdouts take place every year and this year will be no exception. In fact, it might happen even more without a salary cap.

In the Cowboys' case, it might be even tougher considering they are one of the first teams to start camp because of their Hall of Fame game on Aug. 8, giving them a fifth exhibition game. Therefore, there just won't be many players, if any, around that 24th range to sign and basically set the bar.

The Cowboys are innovators in many aspects of the franchise and the NFL. But setting the bar for draft picks to sign is usually not the case.

In fact, looking around the league at the 2010 rookies and their draft status, it's easy to see that it works backwards.

Of the 159 players drafted in the fourth round or later, 135 of them have already signed. And that's an actual signature on the dotted line - there are probably a dozen more that have agreed to terms.

But of the 32 third-round picks, just 20 have signed. Only one of the 32 players in the second round has signed and as of the start of Wednesday's business day, none of the first-round picks had signed.

Only Cleveland starts camp before the Cowboys, beginning practice on July 23, and just two teams (San Diego and New England) will kick off camp on July 25. So that means there just won't be a lot of teams on the deadline to sign players.

So this might be a case in which the Cowboys and Dez Bryant's camp will just have to get it done.

If not, it only hurts Bryant, who needs as many reps as possible. And it will help guys like Crayton and Hurd and any other wide receiver not projected in the starting lineup. The more reps they get, the better they're going to be and the further it will set back Bryant.

Of course, everyone is aware of that. And that's why it won't be a surprise if both sides come together before the start of camp.

But there is always that potential of a holdout - something that was evident, despite the draft-day excitement, all the way back in April.

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