- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – As part of Dez Bryant's maturation process, he’s trying to be as politically correct as possible. So he’s not going to lobby to be the Cowboys’ primary punt returner.
But there is no doubt that Bryant wants to be back there on a regular basis.
“If that’s what coach wants me to do, I’m going to do it,” Bryant said when asked about returning punts. “I love to compete. I want to make a play. If I get an opportunity to make a play, no matter what it is, I’m going to try to do it. I’m going to go 100 percent.
“I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s what everybody is supposed to do. There’s never a point that, no, I don’t want to do this. I want to do it.”
Bryant has always wanted to return punts. It’s owner/general manager Jerry Jones who keeps flip-flopping on the subject.
After drafting Bryant, a giddy Jones boasted about how much of an impact No. 88 could make as a punt returner. Bryant backed that up by averaging 14.3 yards on punt returns as a rookie, scoring on two of 15 attempts.
But it became an issue to Jones after Bryant suffered a deep thigh bruise on the first punt return of last season. Jones has gone back and forth on the subject since then, but he’s back on board now: “I have no issue with us making business decisions relative to him returning punts,” Jones said recently.
In other words, when the Cowboys have a chance for an impact return, it’s in everybody’s best interests for Bryant to be back there. Especially if Bryant can display the ability to make business decisions on the field.
That means not always fighting for every inch. It means occasionally stepping out of bounds when there is no room to run instead of letting three players take full-speed shots at him.
“I feel like I’m learning a little bit,” said Bryant, who averaged only 6.9 yards per punt return last season, in large part due to poor blocking. “I know there’s times that I should go down. I just feel like it’s my job to try to score every time, every single play, but I’m learning that sometimes just go down.”
That might be the best way Bryant can lobby to be the primary punt returner.