Cowboys WR Bryant ready for opener vs. Jets' CBs
Dez Bryant means no disrespect to Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie or any other cornerback in the NFL.
He's just not interested in discussing them. Or watching them on film.
Bryant insists he hardly even pays attention to them on the field, either, barely registering who is covering him when he lines up.
The way Bryant sees it, as long as he does what he's supposed to, nobody can stop him, including the New York Jets' talented tandem that he will face Sunday night as he opens his second season with the Dallas Cowboys.
''I'm not going to change up my game for no corner,'' Bryant said. ''I'm not the type of guy to single anybody out - no DB, no nothing like that.''
Cornerbacks learned about Bryant last season, when he proved he could be a big-play threat despite not having played in the preseason because of an injury and having hardly played the previous year in college because of problems with the NCAA.
He caught 45 passes for 561 yards and six touchdowns in 12 games. He missed the last four games with a broken leg, and played only five games with Tony Romo before the quarterback got hurt.
Both are healthy now, and are being counted on as major producers in coach Jason Garrett's offense. Bryant will start opposite Miles Austin, with tight end Jason Witten providing another reliable target in the passing game. The biggest question is whether a line featuring three young, unproven blockers will give Romo enough time to make plays.
They'll be tested right away by a Jets defense that's always aggressive, and will be especially fired up at home this week. Their motivators include being in prime time, this being the opener, wanting to help their coach Rex Ryan outshine his twin brother Rob, Dallas' defensive coordinator, and the emotions sure to be stirred up by tributes to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Plus, the Jets have Revis and Cromartie - a pair of Pro Bowl cornerbacks, with Revis considered among the NFL's best at shutting down receivers.
''That's how we like to play defense,'' Rex Ryan said. ''We're almost doing it a little backward. You always like to get the front first, then the corners second or the back end second. But in our system, we've got those two great corners, so that's kind of how we're building our team. ... There's an old scout that he used to say all the time, `You can lose games fastest at quarterback and at cornerback,' so those are certainly vital for us.''
Whether the Jets stick their cornerbacks on a particular side of the field, or on a particular receiver - or, more likely, mix things up - remains to be seen. Bryant and Revis will hook up eventually and it could be among the best one-on-one duels of the opening weekend.
''Hey, call it what you want,'' Bryant said, smiling and giggling.
Revis' specialty is crowding a receiver and getting physical. Bryant likes it that way, too - especially when he's three inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than his defender, as in this case.
''The guy is very strong, he's fast, he makes plays,'' Revis said. ''I'll put Dez Bryant in the category of Terrell Owens ... very explosive. He can run, he's strong, you can tell he's strong at the line and he's coming into himself to be a great receiver. This is his second year and you can tell he has the talent to be one of the best in the league.''
Cromartie is closer to Bryant's size. He's not as dominating as Revis, but few are; he's still good enough to have earned a $32 million, four-year deal from the Jets this summer.
''Against these guys, you've got to make a play on them,'' Bryant said. ''You've got to come with your A game when you face a defense like this. ... It's going to be great.''
Although Bryant had a drama-filled offseason - from revelations of lawsuits for excessive jewelry purchases and unpaid bills, to a dustup with security guards at an upscale mall because he was wearing baggy pants - his preseason and training camp have been filled with praise from teammates and his coaches, both Garrett and receivers coach Jimmy Robinson.
He's gotten into his playbook, doing a better job of learning his routes and getting in synch with Romo, all the things a maturing, second-year player should be doing.
''I know what I'm doing when I'm out on the field,'' Bryant said. ''There's no better feeling than that. I'm fired up, just ready to go out and show what I've learned. ... I know a lot more than I knew last year, and it's just going to get better each and every day.''
So what kind of numbers does he expect to put up this season?
''I don't even know that,'' Bryant said. ''I'm going to try my best. With the group of guys I've got around me, helping me, I can do some pretty good things.''