Thursday, November 1, 2012
Dez Bryant stripped of primary punt returner role
By Tim MacMahon
IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant flirted with disaster on a punt return two weeks ago and then consummated the relationship last week.
Suffice to say, Bryant is no longer the Cowboys’ primary punt returner, having been stripped of that duty after losing a fumble against the Giants.
Bryant, who has averaged only 5.5 yards on 12 returns with a long of 44 this season, hopes it’s only a temporary change.
“I promise you, man, I’m going to get back in their ear,” Bryant said. “I’m going to get in their ear about that. I’m going to get in their ear.”
The Cowboys coaches got in Bryant’s ear about the importance of ball security after a reckless punt return against the Panthers. He made a dangerous catch on a ball over his head inside the 10-yard line, moved the ball from one hand to the other in traffic and held it away from his body.
Coach Jason Garrett said the next day that the coaches were relieved when Bryant hit the ground and still had the ball.
Their fears came true the following game. Bryant failed to catch the ball cleanly while trying to make a running, over-the-shoulder catch, picked it up off the ground and fumbled while trying to make a big return out of nothing.
The decision to demote him didn’t come as a surprise as Bryant. The only other time he was sent back as the punt returner against the Giants came before the Cowboys’ final possession of the game, when the potential reward of a big return outweighed the risk of poor ball security.
“I was very understanding,” Bryant said. “But like I said, I’m going to get back in coach’s ear. I think it will be hard for him to tell me no.
“I’m going to continue to keep working at it. It’s not hard for me to catch a punt. I just need to feel it in and stop looking upfield and think before catching the rock. That should be my first objective, to catch the ball and then go make a play.”