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Cowboys rookie Bryant slightly twists ankle, still impresses Phillips

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips praised wide receiver Dez Bryant on Sunday while also passing along some advice.

Phillips said Bryant showed a lot of potential during the team's three-day rookie minicamp, but the coach also told the first-round pick -- as well as the other 25 rookies, eight first-year prospects and three tryout players -- to be sharper when they join Cowboys veterans for the primary minicamp in June.

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"I think we got over the point we needed to, and that is they need to get physically better when they come back, and mental," Phillips said. "We threw a lot at them mentally. When I sent them home, that's what I told them, that's what we've got to have when they come back here."

Bryant struggled with his conditioning and also slightly turned an ankle during the last few plays of Sunday's drills. But Bryant also made some spectacular catches, although against defensive backs with no NFL experience.

"Dez Bryant is an absolute talent," Phillips said. "You don't get to be around that many players that come in and look that good that early. ... He's pretty natural, got great body control, great hands, quickness, power and speed."

Adding to Bryant's NFL education was a personal pep talk after Saturday's practice from Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin, who won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys and still lives in the area. Bryant is wearing the No. 88 made famous by Drew Pearson and Irvin in Dallas.

Five of the Cowboys' six draft picks had full participation in this weekend's minicamp, with fourth-round safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah sitting out while he heals from shoulder surgery.

Phillips also liked what he saw from inside linebacker Sean Lee, who shed two knee braces over the weekend before being fitted for a custom brace he felt comfortable wearing on the final day.

"Most of our draft choices certainly looked like we thought they would look on the field, which was important," Phillips said.

Lee played with a knee brace last season at Penn State after missing all of 2008 with a torn right knee ligament, and the Cowboys are being cautious. Lee wanted to stop wearing the brace, but the Cowboys want him to keep it for now.

Phillips said Lee, a second-round pick, is a quick study.

"The ability to play inside linebacker is not easy to find these days," Phillips said. "To be able to play the run and the pass and to be agile enough and active enough, he has all those qualities plus he's real smart."

Another player who made an impression was speedy defensive lineman Sean Lissemore, a seventh-round selection. Phillips also singled out first-year receiver Titus Ryan, who played in Canada last season, and five rookie free agents: defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington, offensive tackle Mike Tepper, tight end Scott Sicko and safeties Barry Church and Danny McCray.

Sicko's versatility is a plus. The Cowboys want to look at him as an H-back, and he also had a chance at long snapping during one of Sunday's drills.

The first two days of minicamp were conducted at the team's headquarters at Valley Ranch before shifting to Cowboys Stadium for the wrap-up. That allowed the rookies to experience the billion-dollar venue where they will play home games if they earn a roster spot.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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