Dez Bryant’s last 1,000-yard season came in 2014, an All-Pro season he parlayed into a five-year, $70 million extension. Bryant’s last full offseason program with his teammates came before that 2014 season. The two are not unrelated.
Bryant missed the 2015 offseason in a contract holdout. He missed the 2016 offseason rehabbing from a second surgery on his right foot. This offseason, Bryant was a full participant, which receivers coach Derek Dooley anticipates will help Bryant get back to where he was.
“The first thing is, he was here,” Dooley said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “For the last two offseasons, he hasn’t had an offseason since 2014 because after 2014 he had the contract deal and then in 2015 he was hurt, so this was his first time to get out here and develop a level of consistency. I think he’s benefited from it. His route-running, his route detail, his inventory, all of those things are improving. And he’s got a lot to improve on. He knows it, but he’s getting better.”
Bryant missed three games with a knee injury last season, making 50 catches for 796 yards and eight touchdowns. His best game came in the divisional-round playoff loss to the Packers when he made nine receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
“I would say the last half of the season he really played at a high level,” Dooley said. “Again, he comes in without an offseason, and then he gets dinged up a little bit early, and then once he kind of got back in that rhythm he really showed what he’s capable of doing. As long as he can stay in that consistent work mode, avoid the injuries (knock, knock), I think the sky is the limit for him.”
Staying healthy is key for Bryant, who missed 10 games with injuries the past two seasons. In the four seasons from 2011-14, Bryant averaged 84 catches for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns and established himself as one of the best receivers in the game.