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Bryant determined to be a Cowboys star, not a problem

TULSA, Okla. -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is proclaiming himself ready to go whenever the NFL lockout is over, ending an offseason he'd rather forget.

"There will be an NFL season, and I think we will start on time," Bryant said Saturday afternoon during an appearance at a local department store about an hour from Oklahoma State, where he played college football. "I know Dallas will be ready to go, and I'll be ready to put on my helmet and go to work."

Cowboys owner stands by his man

Jerry Jones, who spent

a first-round draft pick on Dez Bryant in 2010, said last week that he isn't concerned about the wide receiver despite recent problems. **More...**

Bryant said he doesn't have any lingering effects from the broken ankle that he suffered against the Indianapolis Colts in early December. It put an abrupt stop to Bryant's rookie season, in which he had 45 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns and also returned two punts for scores.

"I'm very determined to stay healthy this season," Bryant said. "I'm working hard, and I am staying focused on that. I'm running routes every day to get ready. It was 104 degrees yesterday, and I was running gassers. I feel good, and I'm ready to play."

Although the lockout, in its third month, is keeping players away from the team's facility, Bryant and his teammates are working out on their own.

"We're getting together two or three times a week at an undisclosed location," Bryant said with a smile. "We can't be at the facility, but everything else is fine. We're going through practice and getting ready. The work stoppage isn't hurting me at all. I'm motivating myself to be ready."

The practice routine has been welcomed by Bryant, who had been facing more than $800,000 in debt and lawsuits after several spending sprees. He also had a well-publicized run-in with security at a Dallas-area mall.

"I have a handle on it, and it's done," Bryant said when asked about his money problems. "It's in the past, and I'm ready to go ahead from here."

Bryant's offseason problems and the lockout did little to dissuade Dallas and Oklahoma State fans from attending Saturday's autograph session. The autograph line started forming 2½ hours before Bryant's appearance.

Bryant was quick to dismiss stories that the offseason money problems caused a rift between himself and his teammates or Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"From what I see, my relationship with Mr. Jones is fabulous," Bryant said. "The relationship between Big Tony (Romo, the Cowboys' quarterback) and me is great. He believes in me and knows what I can do. If he throws a jump ball, he knows that I will go up and get it."

Bryant also said he's excited to begin working with his new position coach, Jimmy Robinson, who signed with the Cowboys less than one week after helping the Green Bay Packers win last season's Super Bowl.

"I feel about him the same way I do coach (Jason) Garrett," Bryant said. "He's a determined guy who wants to win. With that kind of attitude, you can't go wrong. Knowing that, it's easy for me to buy into his philosophy.

"I think we'll be more aggressive this year with (Garrett) in charge. I still have a bad taste in my mouth after starting 1-7 last year, and that makes me motivated and determined for this season."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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