Receiver Dez Bryant will be held out when the Dallas Cowboys ratchet up their off-season work with OTA practices next week.
But don’t be alarmed.
Bryant has had no setbacks from January surgery on a fractured right foot. The fracture in last season’s season opener limited him to nine games and a career-low 31 catches last year.
He has done well with the conditioning and individual work so far.
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But more important, Bryant has a brought intensity to the workouts.
Bryant is admittedly motivated to return to his Pro Bowl form of 2014 and also excited to be part of the off-season program after missing last year in a contract dispute.
“Well, he brings great energy,” tight end Jason Witten said Tuesday during Reliant’s fifth annual Home Run Derby benefiting The Salvation Army. “I think it’s great, not only for him, but for all of us to have him there. He loves football. It’s been a good off-season for him.
“You talk about getting motivated and excited. He just leaps out when you see him the way that he approaches every day this off-season. He looks good, and I know he’s very excited to get back at it.”
“He’s always running,” Witten explained. “He’s always talking about routes and what we can do better, things that he wants to focus on. It’s all about getting better and the energy that he brings. Those are good conversations you want to have, especially when he wasn’t around last year.
“He’s off to a really good start and he’s a competitor. He’s working hard to get himself, not only to be back, but to do really good and try to be the best.”
The workouts have been mainly individual drills. The Cowboys will do more competitive and team work when the OTAs start next week.
It will look more like football practice, per coach Jason Garrett.
But the Cowboys will err on the side of caution with Bryant. The focus is on having him ready for the start of training camp and the season.
They love what they have seen from him so far.
“We’ll just take Dez day by day,” Garrett said. “He’s done a really nice job in his rehab. He’s been working on his conditioning the last couple of weeks. He’s moving around well. We’re not going to rush him.
“Any injured player, someone coming off of a surgery, someone in our rehab program right now, we’re going to be very deliberate with bringing them back. So, we’ll take Dez’s situation day by day just like you would any of the other guys and see how they progress over the course of the spring.”
Bryant’s 2015 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.
Bryant, 27, underwent a second bone graft on his foot in January.
But he is back to running full speed and on pace to be ready for training camp in July.