Last weekend was supposed to be "Rookie Minicamp'' at Valley Ranch.
But Dez Bryant -- despite not being a rookie and despite not being fully cleared to do everything on a football field -- could not stay away.
"I feel great!'' Dez told CHQ while otherwise reserving all comments for Jerry and Stephen Jones, coach Jason Garrett and staff, and a host of rookies working desperately to someday be his teammate. (Oh, and a high five for Dr. Dan Cooper, who performed the surgery on new Dez teammate Jaylon Smith.)
Ezekiel Elliott is among the youngsters Bryant spent a moment with, and this might come as somewhat of a surprise to those who wish to create some sort of a conflict here because before the NFL Draft, he'd tweeted support of using the No. 4 overall pick on defensive back Jalen Ramsey.
But on Draft Night, moments after the selection of Elliott, CHQ spoke to Dez, who told us, "'I'm so excited about Ezekiel Elliott! I want him to come in and make a big impact!''
So there are no problems here -- except for that rehabbing foot following January surgery. No, no, there is no major lingering issue here, no problem. In fact, he was on the sideline on Saturday, playing catch running routes, pushing himself just a little bit ... But he has yet to be fully cleared medically and the Cowboys haven't committed to letting him take the reigns off for OTAs.
“He’s done a really good job with his rehab, and he’s made progress,” Garrett said. “Like with all those guys, it’s a day-by-day, week-by-week thing. But he’s had no setbacks, but he really continues to get better and better.”
The Cowboys would like his offseason to be substantially "better'' than it was a year ago, when his contract dispute and then some nagging injury issues limited him in the spring and summer -- and then, of course, came the foot injury that stole from him most of the 2015 season. In the opinion of position coach Derek Dooley, Bryant needs to start at "Square 1'' in terms of returning to a groove as a well-conditioned football player, a route-runner ... everything. In the opinion of Garrett, there needs to be what I might term "risk aversion'' as the club thinks generally Dez can be a full participant in work around June 1.
“I don’t think there’s any balance,'' Garrett said of Bryant increasing his workload according to a timetable. "It’s all about just being healthy. As soon as he’s healthy, he’ll get integrated back in. He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do with his rehab, and he’s making progress. There will be different thresholds he’ll have as we would with any injured player, ‘He’s doing this well, let’s take the next step. He’s doing this well, let’s take the next step.’
"So we’ll do that with him, and hopefully over the course of the offseason and into training camp he’ll start playing some football with us.”
Dez, of course, will push himself. Because he's "feeling great.'' And he'll push for the success of new teammates like Zeke, too ... because he wants them to join him in greatness.