Josh Norman says his rival Dez Bryant 'has a lot left in the tank'

Over the last several years, Josh Norman and Dez Bryant have developed a bit of a rivalry. It started when Norman was a Carolina Panther, but it's escalated the last two seasons as the two have squared off twice a year with Norman playing for the Cowboys' division rivals. 

The two got into a scuffle after a November 2016 game, which was followed by each player roasting the other in their respective postgame media availability sessions. Bryant claimed that he exposed Norman and implored people to watch the tape, even posting clips on Twitter that showed how he'd twisted Norman into knots. Norman alleged that Bryant threatened to unload a clip (i.e. a gun) on him, which Bryant vehemently denied. Last summer, Dez said he doesn't worry at all about what Norman says about him. And during the season, Norman said that Dez is now "just a guy" and not the player he was during his heyday. 

So it's more than a bit surprising that Norman would choose this moment -- with Dez's bloated contract the subject of rampant offseason speculation -- to seemingly come out in defense of his rival. On Thursday, Norman let it be known that he still thinks of Dez as a high-level talent. 

"He has a lot left in the tank. It's what he gets out of it, that's the thing," Norman said during a Fox Sports 1 television segment, per the Dallas Morning News. "I mean, he can be whatever he wants to be. I'm not here to down the man, I'm not gonna down him. He plays the game at the highest level. I think for him, it's all between here [points to head]. Once he figures that out and once he feels that 'When I step on the field I'm going to dominate whether it's Josh Norman or a rookie coming into the league [lined up against me].' ... Everybody's got to figure that out. I'm still figuring it out. It's about want-to."

Dez is training with a route-running coach this offseason to fine-tune his skills (he has increasingly struggled to create separation over the last few seasons), and Norman seems to think that's a good idea. 

"I think that he has been taking measures and steps to get his game better," he said. "Everybody's been taking measures and steps to get his game better. I've heard he going to be working out with a new coach. ... So at the end of the day, that's getting yourself prepared for the season that's coming ahead. Getting yourself better. You didn't do something last year that obviously gave you this output, so you're doing something different this year to give you a better one ..."

The Cowboys have already added two new players to their wide receiver room this offseason in Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, and they've been holding pre-draft meetings with top prospects like Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, Courtland Sutton, and more. They can save a bunch of money against the cap by cutting Dez ($8.5 million by releasing him outright and $12.5 million by designating him a post-June 1 release) but that would leave them without a No. 1 threat. It seems far more likely that Terrance Williams or Cole Beasley will be cast aside this offseason, but taking a wide receiver early in the draft would almost certainly start the clock on the end of Dez's tenure in Dallas. 

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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