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Cowboys' Bryant happy to be back at work after resting hamstring

  • By Associated Press
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IRVING, Texas -- Dez Bryant was back where he wanted to be Friday afternoon. The rookie receiver was catching passes in practice for the Dallas Cowboys instead of working on the side with a trainer.

After missing most of the last three days of voluntary workouts because of left hamstring tightness, Bryant worked on the side for the morning workout that opened the team's weekend mandatory minicamp. He fully participated in the second practice.

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"It felt unfair. My teammates get to go back out there and practice, catch footballs. I'm 100 percent," Bryant said between the two practices. "I just feel like it's all part of football. Everybody gets injured. It's just been my time. Look at my past, I've barely been injured."

Coach Wade Phillips said Bryant had wanted to get back on the field the next day after being pulled out of a workout early Tuesday because of his hamstring.

"I do want to make it clear. He hasn't asked to get out of anything," Phillips said before even being asked about Bryant. "We're the ones that took him out when he said his hamstring was sore. He said he could come back two days ago and we said no."

Veteran linebacker Keith Brooking was on the field after missing the last four weeks of voluntary workouts while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Brooking said he wanted to take part in both practices, but that team trainers were limiting to him to only the Friday morning session as a precaution.

"My knee felt better than it's felt in a really long time, so that's really positive," said Brooking, who has played 12 NFL seasons. "The one thing I was concerned about is just explosiveness, just having my leg underneath me because I haven't had football stuff for so long. ... My legs felt great. I felt strong. I felt quick."

Phillips said Bryant will take part in the rest of the practice sessions this weekend. The coach said Brooking would be limited to one of the two workouts Saturday, when the second session will be held at Cowboys Stadium.

Pro Bowl receiver Miles Austin has signed his $3.168 million contract tender Friday.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said the Cowboys want to do a long-term deal for Austin, who went from relative unknown to Pro Bowl pick last season, when he caught 81 passes for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns. He broke Bob Hayes' single-game Cowboys record with 250 receiving yards against Kansas City.

Austin originally signed with Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2006 draft out of Monmouth.

Bryant was Dallas' first-round draft pick in April, when he was the 24th overall pick.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones, who handles the team's contract negotiations, has said he expects things to work out smoothly with contract negotiations for Bryant. The Cowboys open training camp in six weeks, earlier than other teams because they are playing in the Hall of Fame game.

"We've had No. 1 picks before, and we've always gone about it the same way," Jones said Friday. "It will be more difficult because we won't have as much done to go on. We usually have a lot more contracts done to go off of, because we will be one of the first to camp. That will make it more challenging."

Brooking said he didn't have any issues with the knee last season, and that it started bothering him while doing some offseason conditioning early this offseason. Since there was plenty of time before the season, he decided to let doctors clean some of the cartilage in his knee that was causing soreness and irritation.

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"I could have played through it, but were will still three or four months before the season, it was a very minor procedure," the 34-year-old linebacker said. "Get it done so it wouldn't bother me during the season, I'll be ready to go."

The minicamp is the last organized team workouts before the first training camp practice in San Antonio on July 24.

Despite the missed time on the field this week, Bryant said he feels like he is getting a grasp of the Cowboys offense and working with quarterback Tony Romo.

"I'm comfortable, I'm confident," he said. "I feel like if the coaches put me out there, I wouldn't need nobody behind me, I would know what to do. I'm ready to go."

When Bryant wasn't on the field during team drills, he was with receivers coach Ray Sherman on the sideline.

"He knew what the play was and was telling Ray what he was supposed to be doing on each play," Phillips said. "He didn't lose anything."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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