ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dez Bryant finally provided a reminder of why it’s worth using him on punt returns.
It was about time.
Bryant was one of the league’s elite punt returners as a rookie, but he didn’t make a difference in that role last season, averaging only 6.7 yards per return. He gained a grand total of a yard on his first six punt returns of this season.
Then he lined up near midfield with 4:59 to play Sunday, a moment when the Cowboys could really use a big play. Bryant provided it, darting 44 yards up the right side of the field to the Tampa Bay 6-yard line, setting up the field goal that essentially sealed the win.
“Man, I seen daylight,” Bryant said. “The guys did a great job. They gave me some room to run. I should have capitalized on it. I should have scored. It was a successful play, but I should have got in that end zone.”
Bryant had been dancing and running side to side too much on punt returns. He made a decisive cut on his big return.
“We’ve been wanting him to find that straight line past that first wave, and he did that,” said Jerry Jones, who has gone back and forth on whether it’s worth exposing Bryant to injury as a return man. “When he’s got that running room, he’s hard to defend on punt returns.”