Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in his team's 37-30 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Aug. 16, told ESPN Dallas his latest preseason performance is just "a tease."
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant says the best is yet to come.
Bryant told ESPN Dallas' Tim McMahon on Aug. 17 that his three-catch, 59-yard peformance against the Baltimore Ravens a day earlier is just a prelude of his performance in the upcoming 2014 NFL season:
"As far as August football goes, it doesn't get much more entertaining than Dez Bryant's preseason debut Saturday night.
"The Dallas Cowboy's Pro Bowl receiver caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown during his two series against the Baltimore Ravens. Bryant displayed his tackle-breaking talent on his first two receptions, moving the chains after catching passes over the middle. He showed arguably his best attribute -- the ability to soar over a defender and snatch the ball out of the air -- on a 31-yard score over helpless cornerback Dominique Franks before standing on the sideline and cheering the rest of the game.
"Bryant's most impressive play might have been on the one pass intended for him that didn't go down as a reception. He made a remarkable, juggling, tightly contested catch on the sideline, but it was ruled that he didn't have complete control of the ball before going out of bounds. The play was negated by a holding penalty anyway, but Bryant still wowed the AT&T Stadium crowd.
"Not that Bryant was real impressed with anything he did in this glorified scrimmage.
"Bryant threw up his customary 'X' to celebrate his touchdown, but he basically responded with a shrug when asked about his performance after the Cowboys' 37-30 loss.
"'Wasn't really nothing. It was a tease,' Bryant said. 'I feel good mentally and physically, but other than that, I'm ready for the game. I'm ready for the real deal. This is not the real deal to me. I'm waiting for what's real.'
"It's not as if Bryant's spectacular plays come as any surprise. The Cowboys are counting on him to come up with them on a consistent basis.
"'If he keeps that up, he is going to make us a very tough team,' quarterback Tony Romo said.
"Bryant established himself as one of the NFL's premier receivers the last two seasons, ranking tied for first in touchdown catches (25) and sixth in receiving yards (2,615) in that span. And there is good reason to believe the best is yet to come for the 25-year-old Bryant, who is excited about the potential of playing in new play-caller Scott Linehan's attacking offense.
"Bryant's progress as a receiver and a leader was on display every day during training camp, when he was usually the most dominant player on the field and always the loudest.
"'Well, I think Dez played just like he's been practicing, almost consistently throughout training camp,' owner and general manager Jerry Jones said of Bryant's performance against the Ravens. 'He's made those kinds of plays. He's a force out there.'
"In a few weeks, it'll be worth getting fired up about Bryant."
Fans can expect the usual explosiveness from Bryant as a receiver. He also told McMahon's colleague at ESPN, Todd Archer, that he wants to improve his blocking skills:
"Dez Bryant can do just about anything on a football field.
"In his first four seasons he has shown he can make the incredible leaping catch over a defensive back. He can make the tough grab in traffic. He can make the short catch and run through and by defenders. The Pro Bowl appearance on his resume is verification.
"But where Bryant wants to improve is as a blocker, proof that this running game is serious business for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014
"'That's one of my focus points coming into this training camp, getting there, blocking, finding that guy on the back side,' Bryant said. 'Playing with DeMarco (Murray), the ball is supposed to be going left and he'll end up coming back right. So you got to be aware. I think I've took a step forward, not only me, but the rest of the guys have took a step forward by taking a different approach with our blocking.'
"In the offseason Bryant and receivers coach Derek Dooley met to discuss what he needed to improve upon. Most of the improvement was in the passing game, but downfield blocking was on the list, too.
"'It starts with a willingness that you need to want to help and then from there there's technique involved,' Dooley said. 'So to his credit he's actually worked at it a lot more and it's showed up a lot more when DeMarco has popped out in the perimeter.'
"Dooley twice put his receivers on the blocking sled normally reserved for offensive and defensive linemen in camp. But he said the receivers did the same amount of work on the sled last year.
"'I think Dez has probably put a greater emphasis on one of his areas of improvement in the run game and and that's kind of created a story, but our guys blocked fairly well last year,' Dooley said. 'I felt good about it but there were times when he could've given a lot more effort on it.'"
The 25-year-old Bryant has caught 293 receptions for 4,104 yards and 40 touchdowns in 59 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.