ARLINGTON, Texas -- As far as August football goes, it doesn't get much more entertaining than Dez Bryant's preseason debut Saturday night.
The Dallas Cowboys' Pro Bowl receiver caught three passes for 59 yards and a touchdown during his two series against the Baltimore Ravens. Bryant displayed his tackle-breaking talent on his first two receptions, moving the chains after catching passes over the middle. He showed arguably his best attribute -- the ability to soar over a defender and snatch the ball out of the air -- on a 31-yard score over helpless cornerback Dominique Franks before standing on the sideline and cheering the rest of the game.
Bryant's most impressive play might have been on the one pass intended for him that didn't go down as a reception. He made a remarkable, juggling, tightly contested catch on the sideline, but it was ruled that he didn't have complete control of the ball before going out of bounds. The play was negated by a holding penalty anyway, but Bryant still wowed the AT&T Stadium crowd.
Not that Bryant was real impressed with anything he did in this glorified scrimmage.
Bryant threw up his customary "X" to celebrate his touchdown, but he basically responded with a shrug when asked about his performance after the Cowboys' 37-30 loss.
"Wasn't really nothing. It was a tease," Bryant said. "I feel good mentally and physically, but other than that, I'm ready for the game. I'm ready for the real deal. This is not the real deal to me. I'm waiting for what's real."
It's not as if Bryant's spectacular plays come as any surprise. The Cowboys are counting on him to come up with them on a consistent basis.
"If he keeps that up, he is going to make us a very tough team," quarterback Tony Romo said.
Bryant established himself as one of the NFL's premier receivers the last two seasons, ranking tied for first in touchdown catches (25) and sixth in receiving yards (2,615) in that span. And there is good reason to believe the best is yet to come for the 25-year-old Bryant, who is excited about the potential of playing in new play-caller Scott Linehan's attacking offense.
Bryant's progress as a receiver and a leader was on display every day during training camp, when he was usually the most dominant player on the field and always the loudest.
"Well, I think Dez played just like he's been practicing, almost consistently throughout training camp," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said of Bryant's performance against the Ravens. "He's made those kinds of plays. He's a force out there."
In a few weeks, it'll be worth getting fired up about for Bryant.