OXNARD, Calif. – For the first time since signing his new long-term contract, Dez Bryant was back on the practice fields. And the All-Pro wide receiver was very business-like, both on the field and during his 23-minute interview session that followed.
Although the Cowboys said Bryant could be limited to begin training camp, he participated in every drill during the morning walk-through and afternoon practice on Thursday.
“I actually feel good,” Bryant said. “I do. I just think it was moreso of the football. You have to be around football, be in the helmet, running those plays, doing those cuts to get that feel. Not saying I didn’t have it, it’s just I feel like I’m like this all the time: It can always be better.”
How hard was it for him to sit out the majority of offseason workouts?
“Oh man, it was extremely hard,” he said. “But at the same time, I was forced to be in a situation that I knew one day that would eventually come. I never experienced it. I’m glad that we got it done and I’m here. I’m excited to be back with my teammates.
“I think the beautiful thing about it all is it don’t feel brand new. That’s great. I’m glad that it’s the same.”
Bryant, 26, is in the prime of his career. He’s coming off a 1,320-yard, 16-touchdown season. But he maintains that the numbers aren’t important. His goals at this stage of his career are all about wins and hopefully a Super Bowl.
He says a new five-year, $70 million deal won’t change that.
“That deal don’t make me,” Bryant said. “It don’t make me. I play this game because I love this game. I don’t give a damn about none of that. It’s not going to change the way I play. It’s not going to change the way I act. I’m here. Like, ‘Thank you, I can go buy me a home and now I’m able to take care of my family.’ Yeah, I love that, but as far as me performing on the field, like, I take full pride in that.”
Those responses are what make it so difficult to believe he was really going to miss games if a new contract wasn’t reached by the franchise-tag deadline.
But Bryant says he wasn’t bluffing.
“I stood by that,” he said. “It would’ve killed me, but I (would’ve) stood by it. I had to.”