OXNARD, Calif. -- What the Dallas Cowboys love most about Dez Bryant is his passion.
It’s the first tenet coach Jason Garrett preaches: passion, emotion and enthusiasm.
Now, the reason the Cowboys paid Bryant a five-year, $70 million contract is his ability as a receiver. He is at or near the top of the list of best receivers in the NFL. He has crazy athletic ability that separates himself from the craziest athletes in the NFL.
But it’s the desire Bryant brings every day -- the passion -- that is his calling card.
He did not practice against the St. Louis Rams but he was right in the middle of the action. On Monday, as the Rams' defensive backs chirped, Bryant chirped right back. Upset with the performance of his receivers, Bryant was vocal with his group. During the special-teams portion of practice, Bryant talked and talked, upset with what he was seeing from the offense.
At his Tuesday news conference, Garrett was asked if Bryant’s passion was channeled the right way.
“I didn’t see real issues,” he said. “I love Dez Bryant, our coaches love Dez Bryant, our players love Dez Bryant. There’s a lot to love about Dez Bryant.”
On Tuesday, Bryant, who is rehabbing from a hamstring strain, showed up to practice in full pads. During one-on-one drills, he begged for a snap to go against the ever-trash-talking Rams defensive backs. Twice, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan had to say no, once after Tony Romo gave Bryant a play to run.
The talking he did Monday only intensified Tuesday.
When the fights broke out between the Cowboys' defense and Rams' offense, Bryant was speaking with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and got involved in the fracas. He eventually took an Imoan Claiborne fist to the face. Somewhere along the way he lost a diamond earring.
Like he did after a fight earlier in camp with teammate Tyler Patmon, Bryant could not let it go. He kept walking toward the Rams and talking.
“I don’t know what you categorize it as but you certainly love his passion and love how much he loves his team and his teammates,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "But I’m not supportive of anything that has to do with something that ends up in fights and scrums and those types of situations so all that’s going to do is Dez -- and he’s been told this by Jason after the first situation we had here internally -- that’s only going to leave you missing games, getting thrown out of a game and having major fines and maybe missing more games.”
There are no repercussions for training-camp fights. Coaches talk about not wanting them, but perhaps secretly they like them, believing it helps the team-bonding experience.
But there is also a time when enough is enough. Bryant’s passion is unmatched, but did it cross the line against the Rams?
“I don’t know that overboard is the word,” Garrett said. “You want it to be channeled and focused in the right direction. You never want to diminish someone’s passion for something. Certainly Dez Bryant’s passion for football is something we all admired and if we all had it, we’d have a hell of a football team.”
If there was some good news for Bryant, a member of the security staff found his earring after practice.