The Cowboys open rookie minicamp on Friday at Valley Ranch, and that makes me think about Dez Bryant, who is entering his third season this fall.
When Bryant went through his rookie minicamp in 2010, a mini-firestorm flared up concerning his conditioning -- or possible lack thereof. During his very first practice, Bryant was wheezing and bending over. On the last day of the session, he tweaked his ankle.
Bryant has battled through some health issues during his first two NFL seasons, but he caught 63 passes for 928 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He endured several games where he was almost non-existent in the second half, finishing third on the team with 370 receiving yards after halftime.
When the veteran minicamp begins in June, Bryant has to enter with the mindset that he'll be better this season. He's a better talent than Miles Austin, just not as polished. The Cowboys need Bryant to play much better than last season.
Bryant totaled 12 catches for 132 yards during the last two games of 2011. In the first meeting against the Giants, he had one catch for 50 yards. You can talk all you want about coverages and whether or not Bryant knows the routes, but you can't have a talent like Bryant finish with just one catch against anybody, let alone your divisional rivals.
The Cowboys need to find a way to get him the ball. Other good teams make sure their playmakers get the ball, so why can't the Cowboys?
Bryant led the Cowboys with 20 third-down catches that resulted in a first down. That being said, Bryant wasn't as good as Laurent Robinson when it came to finding open spots on the field when plays broke down and Tony Romo was scrambling.
One would think Bryant learned plenty from watching Robinson excel with Romo in those situations. And with wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson in Bryant's ear again, maybe things will get better.
When the rookies and undrafted free agents invade Valley Ranch this weekend and try to impress the Cowboys coaches and scouts, think about how Bryant started things.
Then think about how close he is to possibly becoming what the Cowboys expect him to be.