Former Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek calls Dez Bryant "a great player" and believes the third-year receiver has the ability to be one of the best ever.
"Dez is a great player right now," said Novacek, who was one of Troy Aikman's favorite targets from 1990-96. "Dez has the opportunity -- and I looked him in the eye and told him this -- to be one of the best receivers who's ever put on a football helmet. He has that much talent. And a lot of players do. There are so many of them that could be the best to ever play the game. You have to mentally be able to do, and you have to physically have the ability to do it. He does."
Novacek has had several conversations with Bryant, though he said those have been limited to Bryant's on-field play. He said Bryant has to be smarter about protecting himself from injury. Bryant, 23, has had several injuries in his first two seasons which have limited his production. The 2010 first-round pick has 108 catches for 1,489 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career.
Novacek will attend a meet-and-greet with fans before the Michigan-Alabama game at Cowboys Stadium tomorrow. As part of the of the Allstate Tailgate Tour, he will be at the ESPN Fan Zone at the AT&T West Plaza outside the stadium from 4-5 p.m.
Novacek, who has made his home near Burleson, still keeps in contact with many Cowboys' players, including Jason Witten. Novacek said he jokingly texted Witten after the All-Pro tight end lacerated his spleen in the preseason opener.
"I told him that a spleen injury like that, back in our day, was like cracking your knuckles," Novacek said.
Novacek made sure to note he was joking. He understands the seriousness of the injury, which could sideline Witten for Week 1 against the Giants. Novacek said he never had an injury of that nature in his career.
"It's very serious," Novacek said. "I told him to take care of himself. He could be feeling fine [and the spleen still not be healed]. With an ankle, you know if it's 100 percent. You know if it's 50 percent. But internally like that, you don't know if it's healed [just by the way you feel]. That's the concern. You have the MRIs and make sure that thing has healed or is completely healed up before goes out there. It's not a good deal."
-- Charean Williams