Dez Bryant in thick of Rookie of Year race

When a high-profile rookie performs the way Dez Bryant did on a national stage in New Meadowlands Stadium, the hype follows.

Bryant is right in the thick of the offensive rookie of the year race nine weeks into the season, just as expected.

“To tell you the truth, I haven’t really been paying attention to it,” Bryant said after serving early Thanksgiving meals to the needy with teammates Tuesday. “Just to be in the running it makes me feel good. I just feel like as long as I keep focusing on football, there’s a possibility that can happen.”

There is a strong possibility it could happen. It’s pretty much a three-man race at this point.

There is another rookie receiver who merits consideration. Fourth-round pick Mike Williams has played a major role in Tampa Bay’s surprising turnaround, leading the Bucs with 40 catches for 627 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers compare favorably with Bryant’s (41 catches, 539 yards and five TDs). But Bryant has also returned two punts for touchdowns and ranks as one of the NFL’s elite return men.

But No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford has to be considered the favorite. He’s the primary reason the Rams are contenders to win the watered-down NFC West one season after going 1-15. He’s thrown for 1,925 yards and 12 touchdowns despite a rash of injuries to the Rams’ receiving corps.

Bryant would have no beef if his former intrastate Big 12 rival beat him out for the rookie honor.

“He’s doing an amazing job,” Bryant said. “But it’s not surprising. It’s not surprising to me at all. Bradford is a great quarterback. He’s got great accuracy and arm strength. He’s tremendous. He will be one of the best very soon.”

Bryant should also be one of the best very soon. With a strong finish, he might be the best rookie this season.