Despite the emergence of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott last season, Dez Bryant knows he still embodies the Dallas Cowboys.
When asked by NFL Network’s Jane Slater about those who question his commitment to the team after Bryant showed up late to training camp, he professed his love — Bryant used that word a lot — for the organization that drafted him.
“Everybody in this organization knows what’s up with me,” Bryant said. “They know I love this football team. You know, me personally, I feel nobody reps the star more than me. That’s not a shot directed at nobody, that’s just how I feel. I always loved it. I love the fans and I put my all out for them you know? I don’t care if I’m injured, I’ll try my best to get out there and play. That’s how it’s always been. I love Dallas. I love this place, I just love everything about it. I love the coaches, I love (owner) Jerry Jones, I love Stephen (Jones), I love everybody around this place.”
While Bryant simply has to deflect some bad press for the minor snafu, his close friend and recently-released wideout Lucky Whitehead wasn’t as fortunate. Bryant told Slater that “I would say (head coach Jason Garrett was sending a message by cutting Whitehead), we’re trying to do something special here. I don’t have much room to talk, but even though I had a legit deal — the reason why I missed — I should have been there. But I wasn’t. And we handled it. At the same time I understand what coach Garrett is trying to do. You gotta take care of business.”
This is an important season for Bryant, which is why the Cowboys are already “handling” even a minor infraction like showing up late to camp. As Prescott emerges, Bryant seems to be hovering between potential No. 1 target of the future and occasional playmaker. Bryant was second on the team in targets to Cole Beasley with tight end Jason Witten close behind last year. Dallas drafted a Beasley clone this offseason in Ryan Switzer, perhaps signaling another shift in offensive style to better suit Prescott’s comfort zone.
Bryant’s stellar nine-catch, 132-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Packers in the playoffs last year shows he has the ability to carry an offense if he’s got the trust of his quarterback. Garrett is doing his best to ensure that’s the case.