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Bryant's strange antics look destined to burn Cowboys

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider

Dez Bryant seems to be having a tough time getting a grip. (Getty Images)  
Dez Bryant seems to be having a tough time getting a grip. (Getty Images)  

It's impossible to say if the erratic behavior of Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant is a problem. Or will be. Or if what I see means he's a few batteries short of a power cell. I do know this: Based on some of his sideline antics during Sunday night's game against Philadelphia, Bryant is headed down a path the Cowboys should not want to see. Bryant's curious, constant and borderline bizarre behavior that began in the first quarter never subsided. Strange is one word to describe it. Troubling is possibly another.

He constantly stormed up and down the sideline. He grabbed teammates by their shoulder pads, pleaded for the ball, had his pleas ignored by Tony Romo, caused teammates to walk away from him, tossed his helmet (twice), screamed at a game official over a pass interference non-call and overall displayed the temperament and anger management of a two-year-old.

One Cowboys player told me this is a constant with Bryant, and his sideline antics don't always go over well with some in the locker room.

The last time I saw anything remotely like Bryant's behavior against Philadelphia was Terrell Owens during his Eagles tenure and the infamous sideline meltdown with Donovan McNabb several years ago. We know what happened with Owens.

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This isn't to say Bryant is bad guy, but the behavior he displayed -- and I'm told by people I trust this happens every week -- isn't the kind of behavior you want in a player. Fiery is one thing but erratic is another.

Case in point: Late in the game, after some sort of outburst (again) on the sideline, the Cowboys were in Philadelphia's red zone. Bryant came in from the sideline seemingly agitated at something. He lined up wide left but clearly missed an audible from Romo.

The ball was snapped and the entire Dallas offense moved except ... Bryant. He stood in his two-point stance motionless for several seconds as everyone else moved. The play was for Bryant, but since he screwed up the snap count, the play was thrown off. Romo threw for Bryant and it went to a spot where Bryant was supposed to be but wasn't.

Watching Bryant on the sideline was more entertaining (and concerning) than the blowout itself. Bryant felt he was being held for much of the night by Eagles defensive backs. Early in the game, he demonstrated how they were holding him by forcefully grabbing the shoulder pads of a teammate while standing in front of Romo. Romo looked at Bryant, said nothing, then went back to looking at some still shots of the coverage the Eagles were playing.

In another instance, Bryant paced up and down the sideline directly in front of Romo. The quarterback looked once at Bryant and then ignored him.

In the second quarter, Bryant tried to speak with Romo, but Romo looked up, said, "OK, OK," and then looked away. Each time Bryant addressed Romo, Romo said little or nothing. Romo stayed cool the entire time. He did that with Bryant in his face for much of the evening.

In the final moments, Bryant totally lost his cool after he was clearly held by the Eagles. There was no question about the hold, but Bryant's behavior came close to drawing a flag. He screamed at a game official getting close to the official's face and, again, offered a demonstration of the pass interference call on a teammate. The official didn't look amused and I think Bryant was seconds away from a flag.

Again, this isn't about passion. I saw several Cowboys players display passion and frustration with the loss. Bryant's strange behavior is different. Very strange behavior. At some point this behavior is going to burn the Cowboys.

After the game, Bryant spent a solid three or four minutes looking for one player in particular: Mike Vick. He grabbed Vick and gave him a huge hug.

It was one of the few times on the night that Bryant showed restraint. Sort of.


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