Dez Bryant knows what he still has to do

So you guys didn't like my choice of Dallas Cowboys stories in today's breakfast links? Man, I can't get enough of the Lawrence Vickers ants-in-the-pants one. My kids keep asking me to read it to them again, and they laugh their little butts off every time. Reads like some horribly uncomfortable version of "The Cat in the Hat." But all right, you want something a little more substantial than Vickers and his itchy groin, I hear ya. How about this from Tim MacMahon on Dez Bryant?

Diva receivers believe that it’s the quarterback's job to get them the ball. Bryant has the opposite outlook.

Bryant goes to work every day with a genuine goal of earning a little more trust from Tony Romo.

"As wideouts, it's our job to try our best to impress the quarterback, the head coach, the offensive coordinator, our wide receivers coach to show them that we're good enough to do this job," Bryant said. "The main thing is we've got to get the trust in Tony that we can beat this guy no matter what the situation is, (that) we can get it. We try to get that confidence so Tony will feel good throwing us the rock."

Romo's like a god to Bryant. I covered the game last year against the Redskins when Romo played with the broken ribs, and after that game Bryant was talking as though he'd just seen the man turn water into wine. If he wasn't already all-in on Romo before that night, that was the performance that made him a believer. So it's not just sound-bite chatter when you hear Bryant talk about craving Romo's trust. He means it.

Personally, I think Bryant gets a bad rap. He came in with one, and guys who come into the league with bad reputations tend to have a hard time shaking them. Every time you get thrown out of a mall for wearing your pants too low, people rush to assume you'll never learn to run your routes. But while he's obviously done some knucklehead stuff off the field and had some trouble with his finances, he's a kid. He won't even be 24 until November. Nobody learns all of their important lessons before 24, and to write off a kid that young as irretrievable is foolish and irresponsible.

To write him off as a lost cause on the field would be even dumber. To hear Cowboys fans talk about Bryant, you'd think he'd never caught a pass. The fact is, he caught 45 of them the season he turned 22 and 63 more in the season he turned 23. He's got 15 touchdowns already. At his worst, he's been productive. At his best, he's been breathtaking. And I think it's fair to assume that he's still developing and not yet as good as he'll eventually be. I think it's unfair to assume he'll never achieve his potential just because Deion Sanders got sick of trying to help get his life together.

Bryant says the right things, and when he's on the practice field and in the locker room, he's earnest. He wants to learn and get better. He wants to be the great player his physical ability shows us he can be. Will he make good on it? I don't know, and neither do you. But I count it as a good sign that he knows how much farther he has to go, and what he needs to do to get there.