Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is on the roster to participate in Dirk Nowitzki’s charity baseball game Saturday at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
But Bryant, who remains upset with the Cowboys’ decision to use the franchise tag on him next season, didn’t show up for a practice session Friday.
Nowitzki is hopeful Bryant plays in the game but didn’t have a firm answer on whether one of the bigger stars in his event would show.
“Hopefully he is going to come out and play. He said he was playing,” Nowitzki said. “He played the [past] two years, and he’s an incredible athlete. He was phenomenal.”
Bryant and his contract situation have made headlines all off-season. He skipped most of the Cowboys’ organized team activities earlier this month, making only sparse appearances.
He also skipped the first two days of the Cowboys’ minicamp before showing up for the final day, although he did not speak to reporters.
Bryant, 26, has not spoken publicly since reports surfaced that he is contemplating sitting out regular-season games if he and the Cowboys don’t reach a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline.
If no extension is in place by that date, Bryant would have to play this season under the $12.8 million franchise tag and could not negotiate a deal until after the season.
So why would Bryant hold out and lose more than $750,000 every week he isn’t on the roster?
Bryant and his camp hope that forces the Cowboys to put in a clause that prohibits them from using the franchise tag a second consecutive season in 2016.
There is a precedent for that, too, considering the Cowboys gave Greg Hardy that luxury in structuring his contract.
In the meantime, Nowitzki can only wait and see if Bryant will show up for his charity baseball game.
Tyron Smith and Ronald Leary weren’t going to sugarcoat it when it came to their baseball skills.
They have no delusions of being an MLB player, knowing full well that they are suited for football.
“My baseball game is very questionable,” said Smith, who considers himself a Los Angeles Dodgers fan after attending games while at USC.
“We’ll see how it goes. I’m just out here to have fun.”
Smith and Leary, along with kicker Dan Bailey, were among the Cowboys who went through a baseball practice session Friday at Dr Pepper Ballpark for Nowitzki’s charity game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
When it came to preferred positions, neither offensive lineman had a real answer. Smith wouldn’t mind serving as the designated hitter, while Leary gave a fresh bit of honesty.
“I don’t even know positions in baseball except pitcher,” Leary said. “This is going to be my first time ever doing anything with baseball.”
Leary said his off-season has gone well, and is looking forward to getting training camp underway late next month in Oxnard, Calif. That includes competing for his starting spot at left guard against undrafted rookie free agent La’el Collins.
“It’s all about getting everyone better,” Leary said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys in [the offensive line group], so it’s going to be fun. We’ve got to put the pads on, that’s when it gets fun.”
Having fun is what Smith and Leary are looking to do in the baseball game, which benefits the children’s charities of the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation.
“It’s a really good feeling to help give back,” Smith said.
Bailey became the most accurate kicker in NFL history last season. He has made 89.8 percent of his field-goal attempts (114 of 127), although Baltimore’s Justin Tucker could earn that distinction early this season whenever he reaches 100 made field goals.
Either way, Bailey is among the top kickers in the league and is getting ready for his fifth season.
As far as his off-season goals, Bailey said: “First off, stay as fit as I can, and just take some time off and recharge, mentally and physically and just get yourself ready for the season. Because once August gets here, it's pretty much 6-7 months straight of being pretty locked in.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760