Commentary

Dez Bryant gives Boys reason to worry

Jones, Garrett had good things to say, but that was before recent incident came to light

Updated: March 23, 2011, 3:24 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett were talking from the NFL owners meetings in New Orleans on Tuesday about the talented yet mischievous Dez Bryant.

Jones was asked whether his talented receiver will do the right things this offseason with the lockout going on.

Garrett offered his thoughts on whether his mischievous wide receiver knew the playbook in 2010.

Both offered positive responses regarding one of the Cowboys' most explosive players. However, that came before Tuesday evening's revelation of an incident at a Dallas mall over the weekend.

[+] EnlargeDez Bryant
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesA fractured ankle ended Dez Bryant's rookie season after 12 games.

According to the police report, Bryant responded with profanity and caused a commotion Saturday at NorthPark Center when he and his friends were asked by off-duty police to pull up their pants because their underwear was showing.

Bryant told ESPNDallas.com on Tuesday night that his pants were up and everything was a misunderstanding.

Yet, the off-duty police were concerned enough about Bryant's reaction to escort him and his group from the mall and issue a criminal trespass warning. It was also noted in the police report that Bryant has had a history of problems at the mall.

"I told the guy I'm not trying to get in trouble," Bryant said. "I'm not trying to destroy my image."

It's his image that worried NFL teams when he came out after his junior season at Oklahoma State. He had all the talent in the world, but there were questions. Will he show up to work on time? Will he get in trouble? Will he blow all of his money?

It seems the only thing that had been confirmed until Tuesday is Bryant did show up late to a few meetings his rookie year, but he solved his problems and eventually got to work on time.

"That's the nature of this league. You have a lot of guys coming in who are young," Garrett said. "You have to understand that the transition into the NFL not only as a player but as a person is a significant one. That's [for] 32 teams around the league. We feel really good about him. He's a very passionate person about football. He loves it."

There have been concerns that Bryant isn't doing the right things regarding his rehab of a fractured ankle. Bryant said he's bummed he can't run and is unable to reach out to the team trainers and doctors because of the lockout. But both Bryant and the Cowboys said his rehab is going well.

Bryant tweets from time-to-time that he is lifting weights and flashed a picture of himself with six-pack abs.

The on-the-field product can't be disputed.

Before he suffered a season-ending injury, Bryant led the team in touchdown receptions. He finished with 45 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns. He also returned two punts for scores and had eight of the Cowboys' 57 pass plays of 20 or more yards despite missing the last four games.

Jones and Garrett have praised Bryant for his efforts on the field. Then again, there was that question regarding whether Bryant knew the playbook.

Garrett said Bryant knows the playbook yet it takes time for players to develop a comfort level with it.

Bryant said "of course" when asked if it bothered him when people said he didn't know the playbook.

"But then again at the same time the majority of those people who say that are not in our meeting rooms," he added.

Bryant missed close to three weeks of 2010 training camp with a high-ankle sprain. There were other minor injuries that kept him out of practice, forcing him to miss reps. And Bryant still produced the numbers he had.

"I think he did an amazing job considering all the time he missed, and it's really encouraging from that standpoint," Garrett said. "If you get him into a more normal situation with an offseason and preseason, the growth he can make [will be huge]."

With a lockout, Bryant can't join his teammates for any potential throwing sessions at Valley Ranch. That can't help Bryant's development.

But Jones said that didn't worry him.

"Here's my point: This is an opportunity for players to have some discipline and do some things as a team and take some, if you will, even more ownership in the team," Jones said.

Until the lockout ends, the Cowboys have to sit and hope Bryant doesn't get into trouble more serious than being banned from a mall.

The pressures of the NFL can get to young players because the money, fame and the expectations to produce scoops them up.

"I never think about pressure," Bryant said. "I just never look at my situation that way. I do my job and whatever needs to be done, I do it."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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