The talent has always been there. The questions with Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant have been about off-field issues. But with those not currently an issue the way they have been in past offseasons, Bryant is focused on working to get better. As Jean-Jacques Taylor writes, that's a scary proposition for Cowboys opponents.
Jacques' piece focuses on the things Bryant is doing this offseason to get better -- what and who he's studying in his effort to build on his breakout 2012 season. Some of the stuff sounds pretty smart:
He has spent the offseason improving his conditioning so he can run routes in the fourth quarter with the same intensity as he does in the first quarter. That means at least an hour on the stepmill most Sunday evenings, and route running at a neighborhood middle school on Sunday afternoons.
In Tuesday's practice, he took every pass he caught during team drills to the end zone and then jogged back to the line of scrimmage. All of it designed to improve his conditioning.
He has also been studying Jerry Rice's slant-and-go and Irvin's skinny post.
"Oh my God! You should see the way Jerry runs that thing," Bryant says, his voice rising. "Let me show you. Jerry doesn't just take a step inside, he takes two hard steps inside and -- check this out -- he turns his head to look for the ball, which really sells the slant. Then he plants hard, cuts back out and it's a wrap. Steve Young just lofts it up there, Jerry gets it and he's gone. I'm trying to perfect that route, because he runs it so smooth. That's the kind of stuff I've been working on."
Yeah, someone with Bryant's raw ability, plus a deeper dedication to honing his craft, improving his conditioning and perfecting the detail elements that make good wide receivers into great ones? Absolutely limitless, what he could accomplish. This young man doesn't even turn 25 until November. At this point last year, there was talk of getting rid of him because of his off-field antics. While his background is one that will always make those problems a threat to rise up and bite him again, as long as he has them under control it's fun to discuss and imagine what kinds of things he's capable of doing on a football field. If you're Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett or Tony Romo, that's the fun part. And if you're watching Bryant work as hard as Jacques says he is, it's got to get you excited.