IRVING — You can't help but notice Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant on the football field, but they're happy at Valley Ranch you haven't noticed him off the field this off-season.
"Wished it could have been a couple years back, but had to go through a couple things to figure it out," says Bryant, "I think I got it, and I'm just more focused on my job... and that's doing what I love to do, and that's football."
An altercation with his mother last year is among the most high profile issues Bryant's been through. But the last few months have been drama-free.
"He's gotten some of these other things in his life organized and together. It reflects in his play," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "We've seen growth as a player. We've seen growth as a person. We love seeing him every day, because he's getting better before our eyes."
Bryant says he now knows and understands more what it means to be a lightning rod for attention.
"That's the headline: 'Dez Bryant staying out of trouble,'" the player said. "I'm doing what everybody else does, and that's doing the right thing."
Only time will tell if Dez Bryant really has turned over a new leaf when it comes to matters off the field. But this off-season he received a new source of motivation to keep him on the straight and narrow.
Bryant has stuck a deal with Nike's über-popular Michael Jordan brand. It meant a face-to-face meeting with the man himself in Houston during the NBA's all-star weekend.
"The only thing he had told me was, 'Stay out of trouble.' Yeah, 'Stay out of trouble,'" Bryant said.
The man who wears No. 88 said part of the reason he's maturing is the positive role models he has in his locker room. Add Jordan's strong voice chiming in, and Bryant is confident he will succeed in life... and football.
"Just to be a part of that, you know, I'm blessed," said the Cowboys third year receiver. "I'm always going to stay focused and do my job and hold myself accountable. That just adds fuel to trying to do things great at all times."
Now — just like at practice — it's time for a lot of repetition.