He greeted a lot of the rookies in the locker room, introducing himself to new teammates who might never take the field with him when the games start for real. Later, as the rookies practiced, Bryant spoke on the field with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and caught a few passes off to the side.
A year ago Bryant was a scant visitor to Valley Ranch, awaiting a long-term contract offer while being pinned with the franchise tag.
Now, Bryant is rehabbing from January surgery to his right foot, the second in four months. Bryant suffered a broken foot in last year’s season opener, missed five games and returned but wasn’t the dominating receiver he had been in his first five years. It could have been the foot or it could have been the shaky quarterback play in Tony Romo's absence.
Bryant was placed on injured reserve with two games to go. He has yet to be fully cleared medically.
“He’s done a really good job with his rehab, and he’s made progress,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Like with all those guys, it’s a day-by-day, week-by-week thing. But he’s had no setbacks, but he really continues to get better and better.”
Garrett would not say whether Bryant would be a full participant at the June minicamp.
Last year Bryant took part in only a handful of workouts. He signed his long-term deal two weeks before training camp started and early in those practices strained a hamstring that kept him off the field for the four preseason games.
The Cowboys believe Bryant’s lack of work in the offseason hurt him when the season started, though nothing could have prevented the foot injury. They hope to give him more work this offseason but are mindful of overdoing it.
“I don’t think there’s any balance. It’s all about just being healthy,” Garrett said. “As soon as he’s healthy, he’ll get integrated back in. He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do with his rehab, and he’s making progress. There will be different thresholds he’ll have as we would with any injured player, ‘He’s doing this well, let’s take the next step. He’s doing this well, let’s take the next step.’ So we’ll do that with him, and hopefully over the course of the offseason and into training camp he’ll start playing some football with us.”