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Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Updated: September 9, 9:51 AM ET
Dez Bryant healthy, eager to play

By Calvin Watkins
ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys first-round pick Dez Bryant said he's ready to "unleash" his abilities in the regular-season Sunday against the Washington Redskins.

Bryant missed the entire preseason with a right high-ankle sprain and returned to practice full time last week.

Dez Bryant
Cowboys roookie Dez Bryant hasn't played in a game in almost a year.

He's not expected to start at receiver against the Redskins but will see significant playing time on offense and punt returns and possibly kick returns.

"It's crazy, that's all I can say," Bryant said following Cowboys' practice Wednesday. "I'm just ready to get back on the field and play, because it has been a long time. I just feel like I'm just ready to unleash."

Bryant said his ankle is 100 percent and he's cutting and pushing off it with no problems.

Coach Wade Phillips said the expectations are high for Bryant because of what coaches, scouts, some fans and media members have seen in rookie minicamp and in two weeks of training camp.

Bryant has good hands, body control and speed, attributes the Cowboys were looking for when they made him the 24th pick overall.

"I don't think you can get around it once you seen him practice and move and do the things he can do," Phillips said. "I think he's going to do well. You treat him like any other player [but] he's a good player, I think we said that about Miles Austin for a while and it didn't happen until this last year. But [Bryant] has those kinds of abilities, we can see that."

There is concern about the layoff Bryant has endured. He hasn't played in a competitive game since Sept. 19, 2009, when he caught nine passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns in Oklahoma State's victory over Rice.

Bryant was suspended by the NCAA for lying to investigators regarding his relationship with former NFL player Deion Sanders.

Bryant, who participated in just three games in 2009, apologized for his actions but lost an appeal and therefore the rest of his junior season.

Now he's getting ready for a return to the field.

"The main thing is that I have to keep him calm," receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "He's excited and biting at the bit to have a chance to play. It's different. It's not preseason. This is for real. This is live bullets coming at you, so you've got to be ready to adapt. Once he gets that first catch or that first hit, it will help him settle down."

Bryant said he's not worried about getting hit and won't talk about his goals, though he does have incentives in his contract that could net him more compensation.

"Just going out doing my best, that's about it," he said. "I got the playbook down and I just feel like this is it and I have to go out and just play."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.