Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb's message: Get your popcorn ready

Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb wears a pink bracelet on his right wrist that reads: "Get your popcorn ready." Courtesy Dallas Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas -- The pink bracelet is easy to spot on CeeDee Lamb's right wrist. What's written on it is a little more difficult to see, but it evokes a memory of Dallas Cowboys past beyond Lamb's No. 88.

It reads: "Get your popcorn ready."

Former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens was electrifying, if at times a bit petulant. From 2006 to 2008 with Dallas, Owens caught 235 passes for 3,587 yards and 38 touchdowns while often telling folks to get their popcorn ready because he was going to have a big game.

In last week's organized team activities, Lamb had one of those "get your popcorn ready" moments. As Dak Prescott scrambled to his right, Lamb instinctively ran down the sideline creating space for his quarterback to launch a deep throw. With cornerback Anthony Brown in decent position, Lamb went over Brown for a catch that would have undoubtedly been replayed often in a regular-season game.

"I mean, as a typical receiver I feel like if the ball is in the air, 50-50, the receiver is feeling like it's 100-0 always," Lamb said. "As to me, the same goes, but I'm looking to be more aggressive."

So, what's the meaning of the bracelet?

"You saw it," Lamb smiled.

Expectations are high as Lamb, 22, enters his second season. And they were high as a rookie in 2020 when he was surprisingly available to the Cowboys with the No. 17 overall draft pick. He caught 74 passes for 935 yards and five touchdowns. No Cowboys rookie wide receiver has had as many catches in a season. Only Pro Football Hall of Famer Bob Hayes had more yards as a Cowboys rookie (1,003 in 1965) than Lamb.

As good as Lamb's 2020 season was, it could have been better if not for Prescott's compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle in Week 5. In 19 quarters together, they combined for 412 yards on 27 catches and two touchdowns. Projected over a full season, Lamb would have had 86 receptions for 1,318 yards and six touchdowns.

Their connection even after Prescott's layoff remains strong.

"Watching [No.] 4 work has definitely been a blessing," Lamb said. "Obviously seeing him go down in the Giants game was definitely heartbreaking, but the way he handled adversity and the way he worked himself back to feeling better and confident as he was going into last season, you know, all good things."

Last spring, Lamb attended workouts in Prescott's backyard because there was not a formal offseason program because of the coronavirus pandemic. Prescott consistently praised Lamb's quick learning. With OTAs and a minicamp this week, Lamb has benefited from a more traditional offseason.

"This is a lot more helpful learning plays," Lamb said. "Just seeing guys moving around. OTAs for rookies helps a lot. I feel like a rookie because this is my first OTA I'm going to."

Lamb said he feels stronger than he did a year ago because of the conditioning program. He spent time looking at the plays he made and the plays he didn't in 2020 to find ways to improve.

"Learning and perfecting my craft as far as getting in my routes. And just doing a lot more studying," Lamb said. "That has helped me a lot. Learning my opponent. Learning the defense. Learning how they are playing. Just the knowledge."

Which is why Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy believes the axiom of a player making his biggest jump from his rookie season to his second year rings true for Lamb.

"Once they are able to go through a full season, they have an understanding of the landscape, the expectation, what is expected of them, and then you get to a full offseason," McCarthy said. "I always thought that second-year players, you get to see that jump from their initial start line, and that's something I have paid close attention to. If you don't see it by the third year, it's probably an uphill climb for that particular player. To answer your question, I see CeeDee making that jump. You can see he is very comfortable. Very natural."

As natural as going over Brown to make a deep catch of a Prescott pass.

"I feel like the jump is definitely there," Lamb said. "It's all on the future to gauge it. I am excited about the future. Can't wait for the season."

You can tell by the bracelet he wears.