In a quiet off-season, Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant says he’s focusing on football

Posted Tuesday, May. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said he has “found himself” this off-season, his quietest as a professional since the team drafted him in 2010.

“I’m more comfortable in my life,” the fourth-year receiver said Tuesday at Valley Ranch, where the Cowboys began organized practices. “I’m enjoying being in the NFL. I wish it could have been a couple years back, but I had to go through a couple of things to figure it out.”

Two years ago, Bryant went through an off-season that included a dispute at a Dallas mall and allegations of an unpaid debt to a jeweler. Last year, his off-season was marked by an arrest for an assault against his mother.

But this spring has been notable for nothing more than a mild Twitter spat. He said nothing besides football has been on his mind this off-season.

“I think I’ve got it,” Bryant said. “I’m just more focused on my job and doing what I do, and I just play football.”

Bryant, 24, is coming off his best season with the Cowboys. He said part of the turnaround comes from watching other veterans and being around players who have been successful.

“Listening and looking at people who do it right,” he said. “I had to get around people who do it right. I feel like that’s been my stepping stone — the older guys.”

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said it makes sense that Bryant struggled with his personal life early because many young players do.

“Picture yourself as a 21-year-old coming into this environment, with all the hype and the circumstance around being a No. 1 draft pick in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys,” Garrett said.

“He had to work through that like a lot of guys have to work through that, and he had to mature and understand what’s important. I think he’s done all of that. ... He’s gotten some of these other things in his life kind of organized, and together, it reflects in his play.”

Hargrove thankful

Defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, who lost a year of football because of the New Orleans Saints Bountygate, said he is thankful the Cowboys gave him a chance when no one else in the NFL was calling.

“I’m grateful to God for instilling perseverance in my life. I’m grateful to him for his grace and his mercy,” he said. “Hopefully, he spoke to someone’s heart here at the Cowboys and gave me a chance.”

Hargrove said no other NFL team called. It might be because he reportedly joined the concussion lawsuit against the league. He declined to comment on that.

“Have you seen me play?” he said, when asked if he believed anyone stood up for him. “You know what kind of player I am? You would have thought someone would do that for me, but obviously not.”

Church determined

Safety Barry Church, lost to an Achilles’ tendon last year in the third game, said he is fully healthy and ready to return to his old job.

“I definitely feel like the job’s mine to lose, and I don’t plan to lose it,” he said.

Secondary coach Jerome Henderson said Church, fully cleared last week, didn’t lose a step.

“You worried, would he come back with his same quickness, with his same burst?” Henderson said. “He looks like the same guy we saw last year before we lost him to the injury. He’s moving around extremely well, so I’m just hoping he continues on the path he’s on.”

Murray hamstrung

Running back DeMarco Murray was limited in Tuesday’s OTA because of a bothersome hamstring. Jason Garrett said it had been bothering Murray for about a week, and the team will be cautious with him.

“Obviously, you want them all out there going 100 miles an hour, but we’ve got to understand that this is May 21, this is OTA 1, and we have a long way to go,” Garrett said.

Garrett said Murray could be more active next week.

Briefly

• Dez Bryant said he continues to get treatment for his back but that it, like his finger, “won’t be an issue.”

• Tyrone Crawford didn’t finish the OTA because he hurt his back in practice. He said he would be fine in a few days.

• Rookie center Travis Frederick worked with the first-team line. Phil Costa was second team, and Ryan Cook third team.

• Cornerback Morris Claiborne said he is up to 193 pounds after playing last year at 187.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

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