Saturday, June 5, 2010
Keep it real with Dez's rookie expectations
By Tim MacMahon
Kevin Ogletree’s learning curve ought to serve as a cautionary tale for folks getting carried away about Dez Bryant’s potential impact as a rookie.
Ogletree acknowledges that he needed to have specific personnel packages created for him with simplified routes to allow him to display his skills as a rookie. It took him a full year before he felt comfortable with his knowledge of the complete scheme.
There is, of course, a big difference with Bryant’s situation. He stepped in as the Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver, whereas Ogletree fought for a roster spot until the final cuts.
The coaching staff is placing an emphasis of speeding up Bryant’s learning curve, but the odds are that they’ll still have to simplify his role, at least early in the season.
That’s not a knock on Bryant’s football IQ. It’s just the routine with rookie receivers, which is why it’s so rare to see one with a 1,000-yard season. The incorrect routes Bryant has occasionally run during OTAs are a reminder that, for all his awe-inspiring ability, he has a long way to go to become a polished NFL receiver.
The Cowboys don’t need Bryant to be a go-to guy right away. They’ve got Pro Bowlers at receiver and tight end. They can be patient with Bryant, finding ways to put him in position to make plays without overwhelming him. Bryant’s abilities to make tacklers miss and fight for jump balls present a lot of possibilities even in a simplified role.
Minnesota’s Percy Harvin became last year’s offensive rookie of the year as the No. 3 receiver in a loaded offense. He caught 60 passes for 790 yards and six touchdowns and made a major impact as a return man.
Those numbers, not Randy Moss' ridiculous rookie production, are reasonable expectations for Bryant as he learns the NFL ropes.