The staff writers at DallasCowboys.com – Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus – will attempt to answer these questions before the start of training camp.
Today, the staff continues the series with an attempt to answer the biggest beneficiary of Dez Bryant’s return to practice in Oxnard, Calif., now that he’s signed a new five-year deal.
Who will benefit most from Dez Bryant’s presence at training camp?
Rob Phillips: Let me just put it this way: When Byron Jones got drafted in May, Bryant texted him congratulations and added, “You better be ready.” Think Bryant’s competitive spirit will make the first-round pick better? Jones and the rest of the Cowboys’ secondary probably won’t face a more talented receiver all season than No. 88 in practice. That’s a huge daily benefit. Leadership was a primary reason the Cowboys valued Bryant as a long-term cornerstone. Even though he wasn’t participating in the offseason program, he stopped by Valley Ranch on Friday of draft weekend to personally meet Jones during his introductory visit. Four months later they’ll finally line up against each other. Can’t wait to see it.
Bryan Broaddus: I am going to take a different approach here and say the staff of DallasCowboys.com benefits the most having Dez Bryant in camp. It’s always a great day when Bryant steps on the practice field because of the energy and passion that he brings. He is one of the few players that I have ever scouted or covered in my media career who loves to practice, thus it makes practice enjoyable to watch. Practices traditionally are not the most exciting two hours that you will ever spend in a day, but Bryant changes all of that. He is one of those players who is trying to win every snap. Whether that’s battling Orlando Scandrick one-on-one or getting in a near-fistfight with J.J. Wilcox after a play in camp last year, he is going to bring intensity and that’s worth every minute that we spend on that field.
David Helman: We might not actually see the evidence at training camp practices, given the limited nature of the contact. But the guys fighting for the running back job should send Dez Bryant a big “thank you” card, because their jobs should be much easier now. Replacing DeMarco Murray is already a major concern for this offense, and that was with the assumption that Dez would be lining up at receiver as usual. Without Dez scaring defenses on the outside, what was there to stop Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden from plowing into eight- and nine-man fronts? Dez’s presence at camp will give us a true indicator of what this offense is going to look like, and I expect it’ll be a versatile running back committee operating with the freedom that Dez provides them. I like the group’s chances of being successful with Dez back in the fold far more than had he gone missing for another month or two.
Nick Eatman: This is a good question because there are probably 10 answers that fit. Obviously it helps the offensive players and even the cornerbacks. The media and fans will all benefit. My answer will be Mike Woicik, Kendall Smith and the rest of the strength and conditioning staff. Those are the guys usually in charge of getting the team pumped up and ready to practice each day. That happens during the team stretch period when it’s clear their job is to get the team focused. Well, with Dez on board, that’s usually not difficult. Dez will do that on his own with his consistent energy. He walks out on the practice field like it’s a Sunday Night Football game vs. the Eagles. And for those who think these guys get paid millions of dollars and should do that, it’s just not the case. Think about your own job and how there are some days where the energy isn’t always there. That doesn’t happen with Dez and everyone benefits from it.