Life behind Bryant hit-miss for Dallas receivers
IRVING, Texas (AP) Terrance Williams scored five touchdowns the first five weeks of the season. Now he's barely getting a catch per game.
Cole Beasley's career TD total was two before he found the end zone three times in the past three games.
That's life for Dallas receivers behind top Tony Romo target Dez Bryant - anonymity and patience one week, bright lights and cameras the next.
''I'm still going to approach every game like I've been approaching it,'' said Beasley, the diminutive former SMU player who scored twice in last week's win over Chicago. ''Just a little bit more attention. It's nothing that we shouldn't be able to handle.''
It actually might be easier on the busy side. Otherwise, Beasley and Williams have to prepare like the next snap will be their biggest, whether that moment is coming in Sunday night's game against Philadelphia for the NFC East lead, or it's months away.
Plus, Beasley points out that the understudies were a lot like Bryant in their college days.
''Getting to this point, you're used to getting the ball a lot, obviously,'' the 5-foot-8 Beasley said. ''T-Dub got a ton of balls in college. I did. Dez did. Every skill player here. So it definitely takes some adjusting, especially when you have so many guys who can do something with the ball.''
Another case in point: tight end Gavin Escobar. The second-round pick from 2013, playing in the significant shadow of Jason Witten, has nine catches this year. Four were for touchdowns.
''I think one of the best things we've done on offense is a lot of those complementary players that we have,'' coach Jason Garrett said. ''Maybe it's a couple of games when they don't get a chance, but when they do get their opportunity, they cash in on them.''
There's no guarantee the chances will keep coming. Williams actually had more touchdowns than Bryant until Week 9 against Arizona, when Bryant had one to pull even with the former Baylor receiver at six scores.
Since then, Bryant had clinched his third straight season with at least 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns, joining Terrell Owens as the only Dallas receivers to do that.
Williams, on the other hand, has gone without a catch twice in the past four games, including last week against Chicago.
While he had a signature moment in a win at Seattle with a stretching, toe-dragging catch for a critical first down, he was caught out of position on a throw from Romo. That resulted in an interception in a loss to the Eagles on Thanksgiving. He knows how important those mistakes are.
''It's like one of those things to where if Tony gives you a shot to make a play on the ball, then you have to capitalize on them,'' said Williams, who has 30 catches for 482 yards and has been stuck on six touchdowns for six weeks. ''Whenever he gives me a shot to make a play, I've got the mindset that it's my ball or it's nobody else's ball.''
Williams kept playing after breaking his left index finger three weeks ago against the Giants, but Garrett said his downturn in productivity is more about opportunity than anything.
''We're running the ball a lot in games. The passing opportunities are fewer and further between,'' Garrett said. ''And typically when he's had a chance, he's done a good job making the most of it.''
Beasley, who has 25 catches for 292 yards, is still looking for the first 100-yard game of his three-year career. Williams has just one in two seasons. Bryant, meanwhile, is climbing the career chart for the Cowboys in that category and plenty of others.
''When one makes plays, we all make plays,'' Bryant said. ''That's how the wideouts look at it. If you see one of us score a touchdown, I guarantee you you're going to see the rest of the receivers over there. If you don't, just look at the sideline.''
If they're not the cause of the celebration, Beasley and Williams will be waiting for the next time they are.
NOTES: DT Josh Brent injured a calf in practice Wednesday and did not participate in Thursday's workout. He played last week against the Bears in his first game since Dec. 2, 2012, six days before his drunken driving crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown and led to Brent's intoxication manslaughter conviction.
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