Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant joins final day of team's minicamp
Dez Bryant has indicated that he would be willing to miss regular-season games without a new long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys.
The unsigned All-Pro receiver still couldn't stay away from the team on the last day of minicamp Thursday.
Even though Bryant hasn't signed a franchise tender that would guarantee him $12.8 million this season, he was in the stands with teammates at the Cowboys' stadium when coach Jason Garrett addressed them before the final organized workout until training camp opens next month. He was then on the sideline for most of the 90-minute practice.
"Great to have him here," Garrett said before practice. "He's dropped in really throughout the offseason program. Dez is a special guy. ... Very important to our football team."
Bryant visited for about 15 minutes with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the opposite sideline from where reporters were allowed to be during practice. Neither spoke to reporters afterward.
While Bryant and Jones were speaking near the end of practice, the Cowboys' No. 2 receiver, Terrance Williams, went down hard on his left elbow and remained on the ground for a few minutes after a play.
The Cowboys said Williams had a bruised elbow and irritated nerve. X-rays were negative.
Wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt, Bryant tossed a football back and forth with teammates on the sideline. He stood near quarterback Tony Romo on the field during one set of drills.
"He just brings a level of energy that's just positive, it's a great spirit," receivers coach Derek Dooley said afterward. "It's always good to see him."
Bryant wants the security of a long-term contract, and has said he might skip games if he doesn't get one. Without a new deal by July 15, the receiver would be locked into the $12.8 million franchise tender and unable to negotiate any more until after the season.
If Bryant did skip any games, he would forfeit more than $750,000 per game.
"Dez is preparing himself to play football. There's a business side of the NFL that's real," Garrett said. "Dez loves football, Dez loves our football team, Dez wants to be a great player, he wants the team to be great, so everything he does, he works through that prism, and that's one of the things that we love about him."
Bryant caught 89 passes for 1,350 yards and an NFL-high 16 touchdowns last season, the end of his rookie deal that paid the former first-round draft pick about $11.8 million over five years. He has had at least 80 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 TDs in three consecutive seasons.
Garrett said he had been communicating "all along" with Bryant, but didn't say if he asked Bryant to attend Thursday, the last time the team is scheduled to be together until the July 28 charter flight to California for training camp.
In talking about Bryant's passion for the game, Garrett echoed some of the same things Jones said Wednesday.
The owner also said he anticipated Bryant being at training camp and had "no doubt" that the receiver would be leading the way in the Sept. 13 season opener against the NFC East rival New York Giants.
"I definitely know he's itching to get out there," tight end Jason Witten said. "I trust that it will all work out. "