OXNARD, Calif. – “I’m going to make sure I’m the best at what I do.”
Dez Bryant avoided the media invitation to offer up some Terrell theatrics or some Ocho-Cinco silliness or even to play the “Are You Better Than Calvin Johnson” Game. His press conference this week at Dallas Cowboys training camp was as spectacular as his performance in Oxnard has been, in it’s own way.
On the field? Bryant has joined iconic defensive end DeMarcus Ware as being the best player in camp. In his media session? “Spectacular” meant a cool confidence, not a cartoonish cockiness.
Another day of watching Dez Bryant astound with spectacular catches.
“I feel like there’s always room to get better,” said Bryant, who last year was sixth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,382) and third in receiving touchdowns (12). “I think just by going in, getting everything I already know, cleaning it up, sharpening it up the best way I possibly can and just learning more and more the coaches give me, I feel like I’ll be taking a step each and every day.”
The “steps” being taken here are coming against Dallas’ fine cornerback tandem of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. And then are coming after three NFL seasons that have included behavioral questions about Bryant.
“I’m doing it out of my own heart,” said Bryant of his maturing process. “This is the type of guy I am. I’m not a bad guy.”
Detroit’s Johnson is generally considered the league’s best receiver. Last year, Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record, catching 122 passes for 1,964 yards. In previous interviews, Bryant has been asked about his ability to achieve a 2,200-yard season. He’s good-naturedly answered in the affirmative, only to see some in the media twist his politeness into a prediction.
Does Bryant believe he can be better than Johnson? Be the best receiver in football?
“If you’re a wideout, that is supposed to be your mindset,” Bryant said. “You don’t want to be second. You don’t want to be third. You want to be the best at what you can do. That is what I’m trying to do.”
Bryant’s humility is such that he carefully detailed some of the people who have helped him get to this point. He mentioned former Cowboys staffers Ray Sherman and Jimmy Robinson and first-year receivers coach Derek Dooley as well as this organization’s power base of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and quarterback Tony Romo.
“They stuck their neck out for me and they stayed with me,” he said. “There was a time when I didn’t understand certain things. They did their best to help me understand things … I feel like it’s my job to pay them back by going out and working hard.”