Dez Bryant has no doubt he and his team will return to form in 2016. Neither a second surgery on his right foot nor the Dallas Cowboys’ 4-12 season have dampened his belief that the future remains bright.
“I honestly do believe that,” the star receiver said. “This off-season is extremely important for us. It gives us this opportunity to get our bodies back right. … We have something to prove, but we’re going to take our time, and we’re going to do it right.
“We just want to get back right and get back to playing football again.”
Bryant conducted a round of phone interviews Monday to promote BODYARMOR, a new natural sports drink, which launches in Texas on Tuesday. Bryant said he started using the product after the dehydration issues he had early last season.
He hit the reset button after everything that could go wrong did in 2015.
Bryant’s season got off to an ominous start in the opening game as he fractured the fifth metatarsal, requiring surgery that sidelined him five games. He admits he never was fully healthy the rest of the season.
Bryant returned hoping that, even less than 100 percent, he could help the Cowboys, who were mired in a losing streak that reached seven games.
Bryant played in only nine games, catching 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns — all career lows, before going on injured reserve.
“After I broke my foot and tried to come back, I knew I wasn’t [right],” Bryant said. “But at the same time, I knew what was at stake. I thought I could potentially perform at a high level despite dealing with this foot. It turned out very unfortunate.
“I knew exactly what I was dealing with when I chose to come back. It didn’t work out as planned. I’m taking it for whatever it is. I’m just ready to train. I’m ready to get back, ready to get back 100 percent to do what I love to do, and that’s get in the end zone.”
Bryant, 27, underwent a second bone graft on his foot earlier this month. Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgeries in New York also removed a bone spur from Bryant’s ankle.
Bryant said his foot remains in a boot. But in about six weeks, he should “start moving a little bit.”
He doesn’t know exactly when doctors will clear him for off-season training, but anything is better than nothing. Bryant missed the 2015 off-season in a contract holdout that ended with him signing a five-year, $70 million extension in July.
“Last year was the first time I wasn’t able to get to work out, and I just think it could have been better if I was able to get the full workouts I needed,” Bryant said. “It didn’t happen. This year is a whole totally different story.”
The Cowboys will return Bryant, quarterback Tony Romo and cornerback Orlando Scandrick from injuries. The three starters combined to miss 35 games.
Though the 2015 NFL season won’t officially end until Feb. 7, Bryant already is looking ahead.
“Extremely hungry,” Bryant said. “You can only imagine. I’m extremely, extremely hungry. I just want to play football again. I just want to train. I’m just ready to get back on the field.”
Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean