Dez Bryant has become a lightning rod. He best represents America’s Team -- for good or bad.
Dez has long had all the physical talent it takes to be great: speed, natural strength, great leaping ability, and the nastiness it takes to beat one-on-one coverage.
But for all that talent, Dez hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire while playing in the NFL.
Whether it was due to injuries, lack of confidence from Romo, or just plain dropped balls and bad routes, Dez was always on the verge of being great, but never quite lived up to potential.
Then there was everything else. From slapping his mom with a hat, to owing a jeweler way too much money to getting kicked out of a Dallas mall, his off-the-field trouble has had Cowboys Nation wondering if Dez is or will ever be worth the headache.
Dez wears number 88, mainly in honor of Hall of Fame Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. Irvin had a ton of off-the-field trouble, but Irvin brought proved his worth on the field and worked harder than any other Cowboy back in the '90s.
Dez has hardly been Irvin on the field, or in practice.
But that has all changed the last few weeks.
Not sure why, but somewhere along the way, the light finally went on with Dez Bryant.
With four games left in the season, Dez has already had his best year in receptions (71), yards (978), and is one touchdown away from matching last season’s nine.
The biggest stat might be targets. Dez has been targeted 103 times. This matches his entire season last year, when he played 15 games.
More targets means Tony Romo clearly trusts Dez more this season than at any time before, showing that Dez is putting in the work at practice necessary to earn Romo’s trust.
Dez did have a great training camp, perhaps realizing that his talents can only get him so far in the NFL. Dez has learned how to fully use his talents, and might be set to earn his first Pro-Bowl.
John Dyer is a sports blogger for KSAT.com. He also owns a sports website, Texas Sports Junkie.