IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys believe Dez Bryant has Pro Bowl potential, but he won’t begin his NFL career as a starter.
Jerry Jones made that clear Thursday night, as Wade Phillips sat beside him and nodded his head. Roy Williams will remain the starter opposite Miles Austin, although it’d shock nobody if that changed after this season.
The Cowboys will try to find ways to take advantage of Bryant’s immense talent. They expect him to make an immediate impact as a return man, but they’re prepared to be patient with his progress as a receiver.
“That’s our job to get him the football,” Phillips said. “I do think he can come in and return pretty quickly. We’ve seen throughout time that it takes young receivers a little bit to get going, so to speak, to get used to pro football and get their feet wet. But we’ve seen a lot of them that have come in and be returners and make an impact pretty quick.”
Bryant returned only six kickoffs at Oklahoma State, but Phillips indicated he’d be the favorite for that job, with Felix Jones getting a bigger workload at running back. Bryant returning punts is a no-brainer, considering he averaged an eye-popping 19.6 yards per return with three touchdown on 22 attempts in college.
Of course, return ability is a bonus for a first-round receiver. The primary reason the Cowboys traded up a few spots to draft Bryant is because he’s a big target who excels at fighting for balls in traffic and is a tremendous threat after the catch. He has T.O.-type size, strength and athleticism with better hands.
“This guy can make a difference,” Jones said. “He is a playmaker.”
It’s to be determined how often Bryant will get playmaking opportunities as a rookie. If he’s ready, the Cowboys will find ways to get the ball in his hands as a rookie.