IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receivers coach Derek Dooley walked off the field and joked to a reporter, “Can you feel him? Can you feel him?”
"Him" was Dez Bryant, who made a surprise appearance at the Cowboys' final minicamp practice at AT&T Stadium. Bryant did not practice, but he joked with teammates and had a 10-15 minute conversation with owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
“It’s always good to see him; I say that all the time,” Dooley said. “Everybody asks me that; it’s the same when I see him nine days in a row. He just brings a level of energy.”
Bryant’s teammates were happy to see him as well. Bryant made a handful of appearances at the offseason program.
“I’ve said it many times: He’s a big part of what we are as a team,” tight end Jason Witten said. “To see the player and person he’s become the last few years, it’s always good to have him out there. It’s part of it, the business. I know no one hates [missing practice] more than he does. Hopefully he’ll get it worked out and be ready to go in training camp.”
While the Cowboys believe he will be on the plane to training camp on July 28, there is no guarantee.
The Cowboys have until July 15 to sign Bryant to a contract or he will have to play on the $12.823 million franchise tag. Bryant and his agent, Tom Condon, have mentioned the possibility of missing regular-season games. There is no financial gain for missing games because the Cowboys are not allowed to offer him a different contract past July 15.
“I know Dez, the type of player he is, the type of person he is, the type of passion he has for football, and I know he’s working out probably nonstop, chomping at the bit to get back with this team,” linebacker Sean Lee said. “The business is part of the deal, but when it comes to Dez, we’re not worried about him. He’ll be ready for the season.”