Dez Bryant got advice early on in his career.
A veteran player once told him — you’ll get it over time.
Well, Bryant appears to have “gotten” it for the most part going into his eighth season and has the same sort of expectations for the young players on the Dallas Cowboys who find themselves making headlines for the wrong reasons.
Bryant used to be that guy.
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Bryant is no stranger to off-field drama, dealing with issues ranging from an alleged assault against his mom to his sideline temper tantrums to the bizarre story of an incriminating video during his contract year that turned out to be nonexistent.
Bryant still makes news, such as being tardy Friday for the mandatory precamp physicals.
“I should have been there, but I wasn’t,” Bryant said. “We handled it.”
But, by and large, Bryant has kept himself on the straight and narrow in recent years. He rarely makes headlines for the wrong reasons these days.
In fact, the day before his tardiness, Bryant held a well-received barbecue in his hometown of Lufkin.
“You’re going to get it over time,” Bryant said. “You still have to go through things to understand that’s not how you do certain things. We all have our issues. … I bet Jerry Rice, I bet Randy [Moss], all those great guys, wish they could go back and do certain things different, you know?
“Just take advantage of it. Take advantage of the moment. Take advantage of your time. Just take advantage of all the good things that come with the National Football League.”
That’s why Bryant is confident the young players on the Cowboys will eventually figure it out, leading with running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott, 22, finds himself under NFL investigation for more than a year for an alleged domestic violence accusation. He also was involved in a bar altercation days before departing for training camp.
There have been reports that Elliott is bracing for a short suspension to start the season, although owner Jerry Jones went to his defense during a news conference to open camp.
Bryant voiced his support for Elliott as well.
“I believe Zeke is going to be fine,” Bryant said. “I’m not even worried about Zeke, because that guy loves football. I understand there’s more to football, but time will tell. He’s got a great supporting cast, and he can’t lose with guys like us around.”
As for himself, Bryant has high expectations to return to his All-Pro form. He had a stretch of posting three straights seasons of at least 1,200 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns from 2012-14, but hasn’t reach the 1,000-yard mark the past two seasons.
Bryant has battled various injuries the past two seasons. He broke his foot and sustained a knee injury that limited him to nine games in 2015. Last year, he had a tibial plateau fracture that kept him out of three games. Bryant finished with 50 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns.
But Bryant, who turns 29 in November, still views himself as a top-tiered receiverm even though Las Vegas has pegged him with the eighth-best odds to lead the league in receiving yards this season.
“We’re just going to see what happens. Like I said, I feel good,” Bryant said. “Also what a lot of these people have to understand, hey, man, we’re not a pass-friendly offense. That’s no disrespect. I respect what we do around here and I accepted that. But when that ball comes my way, I’m going to do what I’ve got to do.
“I sit here and say, I don’t think nobody has been more productive with the amount of targets that I get. I don’t get as many and I’m not complaining. At the same time, if I was getting that many passes, I’d be doing that much damage too as well.”