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Sunday, November 24, 2013
Dez Bryant needs the ball

By Calvin Watkins

At some point today, the Dallas Cowboys have to make sure Dez Bryant gets involved in the game. I'm not talking about just three or four catches against the New York Giants late Sunday afternoon.

I'm talking about meaningful plays.

Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant needs to challenge the Cowboys' game planners Sunday, but in a constructive way.
The theme around Bryant these days is, he'll get a few catches but for the most part be double-covered which eliminates more opportunities.

That's an excuse.

It was funny listening to coach Jason Garrett talk the other day about Bryant's only catch against the New Orleans Saints, a 44-yarder.

Garrett said despite getting the ball to Bryant for one play, it was a big one.

Bryant's talent affords the Cowboys an explosive presence in the passing attack. He needs the ball more.

This week in practice, the Cowboys worked on getting Bryant the ball in tight spaces, something quarterback Tony Romo isn't trying to do on game days.

That could change against the Giants.

"We are targeting him but getting him open and making sure he has catchable opportunities, that's a huge factor," offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. "We've considered that. We've worked hard to try to move him around this week and put him in quite a few different locations."

The return of Miles Austin from a hamstring injury shouldn't matter to the Cowboys. Sure, he can open the door for Bryant and tight end Jason Witten to make plays in the passing game, but the reality is Bryant needs the ball.

The Giants have spoken all week about how Bryant doesn't like to get touched. It's laughable really because Bryant is one of the more physical receivers in the league.

"You know, whatever gets them motivated, all I know is Sunday, I'm going to play my game," he said.

He loves the contact and plays up to it. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Bryant would almost wrestle the defenders who were trying to tackle him to the ground.

Bryant is going to be challenged Sunday by the secondary but more importantly, he needs to challenge Callahan and Romo to get him the ball. We're not talking about sideline antics or any of those things. He needs to point out what he's seeing on the field and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Maybe Garrett is going to change some things by telling Romo to force-feed the ball to Bryant. Callahan said he's proud that Romo's thrown only six interceptions this season, and he should be.

Callahan should also be looking for ways to get one of his top targets more opportunities to get the ball. One of his top threats has just 10 catches the last three games and has four games with fewer than five receptions. In the loss to the Saints, Bryant was targeted just twice and while he was covered tightly, the Cowboys didn't do enough to help him get open.

I'm sure Callahan is calling plays for Bryant to become the No. 1 option, but Romo is focusing away from him quickly. It needs to be different Sunday. Much different.

"Very excited about our game plan," Bryant said. "Not only me, but everybody. We're going to go out here and try to execute these plays the best way we possibly can."