Dez Bryant Is Excited to Take on the Cowboys – With No Hard Feelings

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Dez Bryant hasn't thrown up his trademark "X" yet as a Raven, at least not in the end zone.

Besides helping to pull the Ravens out of a three-game skid, Bryant would love nothing more than to do so against his former team.

But it doesn't seem to come from a place of malice. Both sides are heading into Tuesday night's game with nothing but positive things to say about each other.

"I'm looking forward to it," Bryant said Friday. "A lot of those guys on the team I know; I'm real good friends with. [They're] helluva [good] football players. Whenever we line up across from one another, I think it's going to be fun. It's going to be an exciting moment."

The Cowboys traded up to one spot ahead of the Ravens in 2010 draft to select Bryant – a native of Lufkin, Texas. In his eight seasons in Dallas, Bryant became one of the NFL's biggest stars and personalities.

He was one of the league's most dominant wide receivers over a three-year stretch from 2012-2014 in which he averaged more than 1,300 yards and scored 41 touchdowns. He's the Cowboys' career leader in receiving touchdowns (73).

But Bryant's production dipped as foot and knee injuries struck, and the Cowboys released their homegrown star and outspoken Pro Bowler following the 2018 season. Bryant tweeted that he took it "very personal" and later shot back after some negative public comments about his final season.

So, does Bryant still have any hard feelings?

"For the most part, it's water under the bridge," Bryant said. "That's two years ago. I had time to get myself together. You have to move forward with life, because life ain't going to wait on you. Time waits on no one. So, I had to get myself together and move forward."

The Ravens reportedly offered Bryant a three-year contract before the 2018 season that he turned down. Bryant was apparently looking for a one-year deal that would allow him to hit the market after a rebound year.

That didn't materialize until midway through the season when the New Orleans Saints signed him. But Bryant tore his Achilles in his first practice with his new team. Bryant sat out the entire 2019 season and it appeared his illustrious career might be over. That is until his daughter convinced him otherwise.

"My daughter kept asking me was I going to play football, and I just ignored the question," Bryant said. "I was like, 'You know what, baby? I'm going to give it a go.'"

The Ravens worked Bryant out during training camp but didn't sign him then. Baltimore revisited the veteran halfway through this season and signed him to the practice squad on Oct. 27. Bryant had to prove that he was in game shape and be a good teammate.

Over the past several weeks, he's done just that.

"Dez has been great," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He works hard, great attitude, real passionate guy for the game, very determined guy. I enjoy being around Dez every single day."

"Dez has just brought a great energy and great attitude to the team. Since he got here, really, it's like the competition kind of turned up once he stepped in the building," quarterback Trace McSorley added.

"The standard he holds himself to, and he just kind of bought in, and it seems like he brings guys along with him. How competitive he is, his positive attitude and everything he does, I think it's been a great effect on the rest of our team. Definitely excited to have him with us and looking forward to being able to get him a little bit more involved where we can."

After he saw just two snaps and no targets in his first game back in Indianapolis, Bryant was still overjoyed.

"It's surreal — just being back in the locker room, just being on the sideline, just being here with these guys, it's exciting," Bryant said after the Ravens' win. "Seeing the game up close versus just watching it on TV, I felt my competitive spirit come back alive."

The Ravens called Bryant up to the gameday roster two weeks later and he caught four passes for 28 yards against the Tennessee Titans, leading Baltimore's wide receivers. He had a key 16-yard catch and run on a late fourth-quarter drive that could have won the game. Six days later, Bryant was signed to the Ravens' active roster.

With Willie Snead IV sidelined by COVID-19, Bryant played a season-high 59 percent of the offensive snaps in Pittsburgh but didn't record a catch. Bryant hasn't made a big splash yet in his three games played, but that could change. With Snead still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Bryant could have a big role against the Cowboys.

"I'm sure there's an extra glimmer this week for him," Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said. "There always is when you go up against one of your old teams. But I really think every week he's really brought a lot of enthusiasm and spirit to what we do. That's a credit to him."

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones had some flattering words for Bryant this week, calling him an "eternal light of good" in a radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan.

"If you love a competitor, or if you love somebody that his whole being is about getting to compete," Jones said. "He's got his teammate's best interests, great teammate. Dez is an eternal light of positiveness for our game. I couldn't be happier to see him on the field. Now, I'm going to be a little worried because I do know how that rascal can go up there and get a ball."

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