IRVING, Texas – As long as Dez Bryant continues to miss the Cowboys' voluntary offseason workouts without a signed franchise tag tender or a new long-term contract, there's this silver lining recently offered up by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan:
Additional reps are available for third-year receiver Terrance Williams and Devin Street, the team's fifth-round pick last year who worked with the first-team offense during Tuesday's first organized team activities (OTAs) session.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Terrance and Street for these guys to up their reps, especially with the first group," Linehan said three weeks ago during the team's rookie minicamp. "You're kind of practicing on your depth and giving guys an opportunity to work with that first group. Normally that's not going to happen – you're kind of isolating that first group, Dez and (Jason) Witten, Terrance only at the Z (position) and all that stuff. Now it really gives us a chance to kind of develop guys that normally would be working with the second or third group, with our first group.
"You've got to look at it as a great opportunity, and I think it is."
Ideally, of course, the Cowboys would like their star receiver on the field for every workout, whether it's the voluntary OTAs, the mandatory June 16-18 minicamp or, eventually, training camp. Bryant wasn't expected to participate in OTAs Tuesday because he's technically not under contract yet, and for that reason, he has mostly worked out away from Valley Ranch since the voluntary strength and conditioning program began in late April.
See photos from day 1 of Cowboys OTAs.
That could change at some point, but given Bryant's experience and his diligent approach to preparation, his absence from voluntary workouts hasn't been a sizable concern. The club did sign former 2012 first-round pick A.J. Jenkins on Tuesday for depth during OTAs. Without Bryant available, Williams, Street and Cole Beasley are the only receivers from last year's roster.
And those first-team reps with quarterback Tony Romo are invaluable for Street, who has drawn praise from the coaching staff but couldn't find a consistent role as a rookie. He also got additional work with Romo during the Phase Two offseason teaching sessions.
The Cowboys' OTAs run three days a week for the next three weeks, followed by their mandatory minicamp. It's the first practice-like atmosphere (helmets and shorts, no live contact) for new defensive end Greg Hardy, as well as the first look at a revamped running back rotation with Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden likely to share first-team reps. Cornerback Orlando Scandrick is also back with the team after receiving a one-year, $9.5 million extension. One player who could not practice Tuesday was seventh-round offensive tackle Laurence Gibson due to a finger injury.
"Once we started the off-season program, attendance was great and the work ethic was great," head coach Jason Garrett said last week. "We try to focus on each day and try to be great each day in whatever we're doing, whether it's a meeting, a walkthrough, (or) we're out on the practice field we have a lot of guys who love to play the game and want to make it as great as it can be."