Dez Bryant becoming more professional on and off the field
JUN 19, 2014 12:38a ET
IRVING, Texas -- Although he has become one of the NFL's top wide receivers, Dez Bryant is not content.
Entering his fifth year with the Dallas Cowboys, Bryant is finding new ways to improve on his first Pro Bowl season.
"I promise, there's always room to get better," Bryant said Wednesday.
He then described how he's improving without the ball. The 25-year-old mentioned things like getting a quicker release off the line of scrimmage, reaching the correct depth on his routes and not being fooled into taking shortcuts. This all becomes even more important now that Bryant is getting more reps as an inside receiver.
He then moved on to the film room. Bryant says he has always put in time studying tape, but he didn't necessarily understand what he was watching. Now, he has a better grasp of what to look for, which allows him to process more information.
And he didn't forget about his favorite part: catching the football.
While that has always been one of Bryant's greatest strengths, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett continues to be impressed by his love for hauling in passes. Garret was so pleased to see Bryant taking the initiative to catch balls off a JUGS machine between drills at an OTA practice that he pointed it out to the entire team during a film session.
"I just got to touch the ball," Bryant said. "I have to feel it. I feel like when I'm out catching the football and when a pass comes to me, I don't want to think about it. I just want to snatch it and go with it. It goes a long way."
Of course, going against the NFL's top cornerbacks also provides some extra motivation. Bryant said when he's being defended by some of the league's best, like Arizona's Patrick Peterson and Seattle's Richard Sherman, he can tell that they have been studying his game.
"Those two guys are dominant at what they do," Bryant said. "A guy like me has to be on top of my game to go against guys like that because those two guys are arguably the best corners in the game. That makes you become a professional."
Notice that he said "become" a professional? Bryant acknowledges that he didn't always understand what that meant. It's something he's working on daily.
Why is taking pride in his professionalism important?
"I've got two baby boys and they're watching every day," Bryant said. "I have to make sure I'm doing it right.
He's been doing it right if you go by the stat sheet. In four seasons, Bryant has steadily improved. His receiving yards dropped last season but his targets, receptions and touchdowns were all career-highs.
Over the last two seasons, Bryant has 25 touchdown receptions. No NFL player has more. If he continues to top his stats from the previous season, the Cowboys' leading receiver is capable of reaching 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns.
But Bryant isn't worried about that.
"I don't think about the numbers," Bryant said. "Whatever happens, happens. All I know is I'm confident in the work that I put in. I know if I continue to keep working hard and get the other guys to work hard, it's always going to be a good result."