NFC East: Dez Bryant

OXNARD, Calif. -- Dez Bryant caught 11 balls out of the slot last season, which is nine more than he caught in 2012.

The Cowboys want him to catch a lot more from the slot this season.

 The Cowboys can finally expand Bryant's package of plays because they can move him around the formation and put him in the slot, where he doesn't have to deal with bump-and-run coverage.

Jason Garrett said the Cowboys would've liked to have done it in other years, but Bryant wasn't ready. His grasp of all the different positions wasn't good enough.

Now, it is.

There's a significant difference between playing outside receiver and one who is in the slot.

"He's grown as an inside receiver," Garrett said. "The trait and the qualities are different. I've been around a lot of outside receivers who looked like a fish out of water when they moved inside.

"If you picture an X receiver in right formation, there's no one outside of you. You're typically working against a corner by yourself or there's a safety rotating over the top. When you're inside, you have people inside of you and outside of you. You have a linebacker walked out, you have a safety coming down, and you have to have a feel for how to run the routes because there's a lot going on.

"It has a lot to do with your feel as an athlete -- your vision, your instincts and your experience. You have to get in there and do it."
IRVING, Texas -- There was something noticeable on Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's right hand Monday afternoon: a heavy wrap over his thumb.

Bryant jammed the thumb during training camp practices and might have nicked it a little during Monday's practice at Valley Ranch.

Team officials don't believe the jammed thumb is serious, and Bryant laughed when asked about it.

"The thumb is great," he said.

Bryant played through a fractured index finger in the last month of the 2012 season before undergoing offseason surgery. He also suffered back spasms in the regular-season finale at Washington. The pain was so bad Bryant needed two trainers to get him to the shower area, and he used a wheelchair to get to the team bus.

Overall, Bryant said he's not concerned about the Cowboys' first-team offense, which has failed to score a touchdown in five possessions over two preseason games. The Cowboys scored just three points with Romo as the quarterback and had another field goal attempt blocked.

"I don't think there's a big issue with us," Bryant said. "We go out and try to execute these plays the best way we possibly can when we go out to practice. I don't think it's no concern. Nobody is worried [about] not finding the end zone."

Revis Island doesn't scare Dez Bryant

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
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IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant wanted to make something clear before chatting with the media: He doesn't talk about his opponents.

It didn't take much to get Bryant to bend his policy a bit. How can you not discuss the Jets' Darrelle Revis, who is widely recognized as the NFL's best cornerback?

"To tell the truth, I’m not the type of guy to single anybody out -- no DB, nothing like that," Bryant said. "But it’s hard not to, because he’s great."

That isn't an indication that Bryant is intimidated by a trip to Revis Island. Bryant pointed out that "some guys made plays on him, some nice plays."

Bryant respects Revis and Antonio Cromartie, a former Pro Bowler who both makes and gives up a lot of big plays, but Bryant relishes the challenge of facing a pair of premier corners.

"I’ll tell you that they are great," Bryant said. "They’re some great DBs, probably the best. I mean, [they] are the best. But we’re all up for this matchup between our wideouts and their DBs. It’s going to be great."

Revis' ability to be physical with receivers is what most impresses Bryant.

"That’s how he plays the game, being physical all day," Bryant said. "Much respect for him. When you go against him, you’ve got to be on top of your game and know what you’re doing, because if you make a mistake, hey, there’s no telling. He might jump in front of it and pick it off."

Bryant happens to pride himself in being able to overpower most corners. That's one of many reasons the Bryant/Revis battles might be the most intriguing matchup in the NFL this week.

"Call it what you want," Bryant said, smiling. "Call it what you want."

Video: Concerned about Dez Bryant?

March, 23, 2011
3/23/11
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Skip Bayless and Jemele Hill discuss Dez Bryant's ejection from a Dallas mall.

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