DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys will see a familiar No. 88 when they play the Baltimore Ravens to complete their Week 13 schedule.
Former All-Pro receiver Dez Bryant has caught on with the Ravens. The stint with Baltimore marks a return for the former 2010 first-round pick who went on an odyssey after his release from the Cowboys on April 13, 2018.
Though the New Orleans Saints would sign Bryant later that November, a torn achilles in a Friday practice before his debut game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10 eliminated his comeback before it could even begin. The rehabilitation from the injury also shelved Bryant for the 2019 season, and the uncertainty COVID-19 spread across the NFL offseason made it even more challenging to return.
Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones is pleased to see Bryant make his return with the Ravens.
"Dez has an eternal light of good, and I mean that," Jones told 105.3 "The Fan" [KRLD-FM] on Tuesday. "If you love a competitor, or if you love somebody that his whole being is about getting to compete. He's got his teammates' best interests, great teammate. Dez is an eternal light of positiveness for our game."
Bryant provided 531 catches for 7,459 yards and 85 touchdowns for the Cowboys. Bryant set the single-season mark for touchdown catches with 16 in 2014 and his 85 scoring grabs are the most by a Cowboy in team history.
Though current coach Mike McCarthy only knows Bryant from coaching against him when he was with the Green Bay Packers from 2006-18, McCarthy still has tremendous admiration for the Cowboys' former 2010 first-round pick from Oklahoma State.
"I have great respect for Dez," McCarthy said. "I attended his workout just before the draft and watched his career in Dallas. He is a dynamic player. It's great to see him back and have another opportunity. As far as how we feel he will fit in, the majority of that is to be seen as he gets his opportunities."
Despite McCarthy having never coached Bryant, the two will be forever linked. In the 2014 NFC divisional playoffs, Bryant seemingly caught a fourth-and-2 pass from quarterback Tony Romo that set up Dallas at the Green Bay 1-yard line. With 4:06 left in the fourth quarter, McCarthy used his last red flag to challenge the ruling on the field of a completed catch.
The Super Bowl XLV winning coach was 0 for 4 all season on replay disputes with the referees, and even lost a challenge early in the third quarter related to a potentially tipped Romo pass that led to a defensive pass interference call against the Packers. However, referee Gene Steratore, after consulting with NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino, overturned the catch. Green Bay got the ball back and ran out the clock.
That was a hell was a helluva coach he made that day," McCarthy said. "Unfortunately, the rules didn't line up for the Cowboys. He is a tremendous player."
As Bryant continues to find a way back to productive football, Jones knows the Ravens will have an added playmaker on offense to complement quarterback Lamar Jackson, running back Mark Ingram, and receiver Marquise Brown.
"I couldn't be happier to see him on the field," Jones said. "Now, I'm going to be a little worried because I do know how that rascal can get up there and get a ball."
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