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Monday, August 18, 2014
Dez to benefit from Linehan's 'attack mode'

By Tim MacMahon

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dez Bryant does not complain about play-calling, so you'll never hear this gripe from him, but the Dallas Cowboys did a poor job utilizing his big-play ability last season.

Bryant
Bryant
That should change with Scott Linehan calling the plays this season.

“We're more in attack mode,” Bryant said. “That's our mindset. We want to go out here and try to be the best. That's our mindset. We're going to keep living like that and try to be the best.”

Attack mode means making plays downfield or giving Bryant room to run when he gets the ball in his hands. He had only 14 receptions of 20-plus yards last season, far too few for a player with his physical gifts. That ranked tied for 22nd in the league and was only one more than tight end Jason Witten.

By comparison, Bryant had one such play on each of the two series he played in Saturday's preseason opener. He broke a tackle on a 22-yard gain across the middle on the first series. He finished the next drive with a 31-yard touchdown on a jump ball in the end zone. There was also one more shot downfield to Bryant, but the officials ruled he didn't have complete control of the ball when he went out of bounds while making a leaping, juggling catch over a Ravens cornerback.

With Linehan calling plays, Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson had 22 20-plus-yard gains last season, an NFL-leading 40 in 2012 and a league-high 32 in 2011.

Clearly, Johnson's remarkable size and athleticism were the primary factors in his big-play production. But Linehan has proven he can utilize a physical-freak receiver, and Bryant looks forward to benefiting from it.