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Franchised Bryant remains unsigned by Cowboys

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IRVING, Texas — Wide receiver Dez Bryant surprised the Cowboys by showing up and doing some individual drills during organized team activities last Thursday.

Bryant has yet to sign his franchise tender and is not under contract. Vice president Stephen Jones said the team will have him sign some paper that covers him in case of injury.

“He doesn’t have to be signed,” Jones said. “It’s more for him than it is for us so he can be protected in case something happens to him while he is practicing out here. It’s no different than what we have the rookies sign. It’s for protection.”

Jones said there have been no recent contract talks and said he has not talked to agent Tom Condon about Bryant’s deal lately. The Cowboys have until July 15 to get a deal done or Bryant will have to play under the franchise tag in 2015. Jones said the Cowboys would like to sign Bryant to a long-term deal, but feel no pressure to get anything done by the date.

“He is under the franchise tag,” Jones said. “We know he will be a Cowboy this year. If he ends up playing this year under the tag we will go right back to work again next year. So now would we like to get a long-term deal on him? Of course we would. We will work hard to do so. I’m sure we will make push at some point and see if we will make it work. If not, hopefully he will understand it’s difficult to make a deal at this point and he will come on and get ready to play.”

–Running back Lance Dunbar is not considered a major candidate to replace DeMarco Murray as the Cowboys’ starting running back. But he will have a major role in 2015 as the team’s third-down back.

“I’m just competing every day,” Dunbar said. “Whatever happens (with the starting job) happens. But I know I’m going to have a role. Since DeMarco is gone, there is lot to be done.”

Dunbar thought he was going to have a role last year and it certainly seemed the Cowboys were prepping him for that in training camp and the preseason when they treated him like a starter by limiting his time in games along with Murray.

But once the season started, it was Murray all the time. Dunbar carried the ball just 29 times for 99 yards and had 18 receptions for 217 yards.

“He was a back that could do everything,” Dunbar said. “It was his time. It was frustrating but at the same time it was what was best for the team. It was working. We were winning. Why change it up? But I feel good about my opportunities this year.”

“We have always liked Lance a lot,” tight end Jason Witten said. “He is a hard worker. With DeMarco and the year he was having it was hard to justify taking DeMarco off the field but Lance has got some quickness. He is a mismatch in the run game on the edge with his speed but especially in the pass game.

“He has got really good feel. He can step there and really protect so he just continues to get better and better. He understands it’s an opportunity for him on third down. Out of the backfield on routes, he is a huge mismatch. (What he did in practice) was a good example of that.”

–Running back Joseph Randle was admonished by the Cowboys for seemingly disrespecting Murray, who led the NFL in rushing last season, by saying he left some “meat on the bone” during his 1,845-yard season.

Murray signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency and Randle is one of four running backs hoping to replace him as the starter.

“We addressed that with Joe, really immediately,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Sometimes comments like that get taken out of context or are not really intended the way they come out. I think Joe has great respect for DeMarco, as we all do. Joe did a good job with his opportunities, but Joe and everybody else on our football team, we have to focus on what we do and not on what we say. I think he understands that.”

–Cornerback Byron Jones has looked good so far. The first-round pick had a couple impressive deflections during OTA practice Wednesday. But his play was met with disdain from defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

“He’s doing OK,” Marinelli said when asked about Jones. “Getting his hands on it is different than intercepting it. It’s not good enough until we got the ball. He’s around it. That’s good. But what we want is the ball.”


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