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Dallas Cowboys News & Notes: Can Dez Bryant Be A Michael Irvin-Type Leader?

Latest Cowboys headlines: Drew Pearson thinks Dez Bryant is the Cowboys’ most influential player; ESPN ranks Bryant the top free agent WR in the 2015 free agent class; Some of the team's most respected players share their stories and wisdom with young athletes.

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Drew Pearson: Dez Bryant is Cowboys’ most influential player | Jon Machota, DMN
Drew Pearson draws camparisons between Dez Bryant and Michael Irvin:

"He is the most influential player on that team right now. He’s kind of like Michael Irvin was to the team in the 90s. Dez can be that type of leader on the field and off the field for the Cowboys."

To compare, through the first 59 games of Pearson’s career, he caught 199 passes for 3,269 yards and 18 touchdowns. In that same amount of time, Irvin recorded 223 receptions for 4,025 yards and 25 touchdowns. In Bryant’s 59 games, he has 293 catches for 4,104 yards and 40 touchdowns.

Dallas Cowboys' Dez Bryant at top of Class of '15 free agent WRs - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas
Archer quotes a piece by ESPN Insider Mike Sando, who writes that Dez Bryant is the top WR in the 2015 free agent class, ahead of guys like Demaryius Thomas, Michael Crabtree and Jordy Nelson.

Bryant, who turns 26 in November, accounted for 29.2 percent of the Cowboys' receiving yards last season. That was the highest percentage for any player on the list. He also accounted for 39.4 percent of his team's receiving touchdowns, by far the highest for any player on this list and the third highest for any wide receiver, behind Fitzgerald (41.4 percent) and Megatron (39.4).

"You'd better pay Dez Bryant," one of the GMs said. "Jerry Jones had better pay him. The antics you see, that is raw emotion, his competitive flair coming out."

Another GM expressed some concern about paying Bryant top dollar based on Bryant's overall makeup, but both GMs ranked Bryant first on their list, as did the defensive coordinator. "Teams will bid on Bryant," a third GM said, "but not all the teams will be in on that, because of his personality."

Cowboys hosted 160 teenagers during the annual Cowboys U tournament - Charean Williams, Star-Telegram
The Cowboys hosted 160 local teenagers for their annual 6-on-6 round-robin tournament, for which the entire Cowboys roster served as coaches, with eight players taking on the role of head coaches. Garrett explains why the Cowboy are doing this.

"A lot of teams I’ve been on do bowling outings or fishing outings or something like that," coach Jason Garrett said. "We feel like this is a win-win across the board. Our players work with the kids and the kids have an opportunity to be with the players. Everybody is taking advantage of it. Our players embrace it. They get closer as a result of it. You see our guys running around the field high-fiving each other, high-fiving the kids, competing against each other. I just think it’s a real positive day for so many different reasons."

Video: Cowboys Players Share Life Skills At Cowboys U -
Step into the Cowboys locker room as some of the team's most respected players share their stories and wisdom with the young athletes brought in for Cowboys U. Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Spencer, Doug Free, Brandon Carr, Barry Church, DeMarco Murray, Kyle Wilber, Tyron Smith, and Jason Witten each get a brief introduction by Garrett before they each talk to the young players. It's a 37-minute investment to watch the whole video, but it'll be worth your time.

DeMarco Murray: I won’t be reason Romo, Witten miss out on Super Bowl | Jon Machota, DMN
Here's an excerpt of DeMarco Murray addressing the young football payers during Cowboys U:

"I want the ball every time, no matter what," Murray said. "But at the same time, I know it’s a team game and I can’t run the ball well if Tyron [Smith] and Doug [Free] are not doing their job and if Tony’s not playing well and making the throws, or Witten isn’t setting the edge like he’s supposed to. I take it upon myself to work hard every day. The reason I do that is for these guys right here."

"I’m not going to be the guy that messes it up for [Witten] to get a chance to get a Super Bowl or for Romo to get a chance to get a Super Bowl. I want to make sure that I know my craft, that I know what I’m doing on each possession, each play. Always put the team before yourself."

"I love each and every one of these guys up here and the reason I do what I do and work so hard and prepare the way I prepare is for these guys. It’s not for myself. I don’t care about the individual accolades. I don’t care about anything but the ultimate goal, winning. These guys have been here for a while and they deserve to win Super Bowls."

Three Questions: Romo Expectations, Free Future, Ryan Williams - Bryan Broaddus,
Broaddus wonders whether Romo will retain his mobility after surgery, argues that the roster battle between Ryan Williams and Joseph Randle will boil down to their special teams contribution, and suggests that the Cowboys should figure out a way to re-sign Doug Free.

Doug Free is in the prime of his offensive lineman career. At 30, he has two to three more quality years to help this young line. It could be an outstanding deal for both parties going forward.

Video: Tony Romo's Family And Future -
Tony Romo and wife Candice sit down with Desmond Purnell of NFL Network to reveal the struggles of being an NFL player who is often criticized by the public, and how Romo believes the Cowboys have a shot at the Super Bowl in the next few years.

Jason Witten on why he's so confident about Tony Romo being better than ever | DMN
Witten joined KESN-FM 103.3 for an interview. Here's an excerpt of that interview, courtesy of the DMN:

On Tony Romo, what makes you think he's ready to bounce back from the back surgery?

Jason Witten: The reality of it is, 13 of 16 games, we're within one score in the fourth quarter. We haven't executed in those situations and we lost games. That's the league we play in now. Seventy percent of these games are coming down to one score in the fourth. We have to execute and find ways to win. In general, with Tony, he's got unbelievable will. He's extremely tough. I understand there's a lot of criticism and until you win that big game and compete for championships, when you play that position, that's gonna come. But he's working really hard. He looks great. I know his mental mindset. I've been around him a long time. I think he's gonna come back better than he has ever before and it's going to be a great year for him and, hopefully, for our football team.

The Most and Least Cost-Effective Running Games in 2013 -
This post uses numberFire's Net Expected Points metric (a measure of how effective an offensive is compared to a league-average team) and runs that number against the total number of dollars a team spent on running backs and offensive linemen in 2013 to arrive at a list of the most cost effective running games. The result: The Cowboys rank as the third most cost-effective rushing team in the league

Jon Beason Injury: Giants' LB will miss three months with broken foot - Big Blue View
New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason will miss approximately three months with a ligament tear and a small fracture in his right foot, Ed Valentine writes. This puts Beason on target to return for the season opener or shortly thereafter.

Punt Game: Sportsballing Really Hard With Your Foot - Pro Football Focus
Former NFL punter Chris Kluwe, writing a guest column for Pro Football Focus, tells us what statistics matter in measuring a great punter.

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