After an offseason he'd like to forget, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is proclaiming himself ready for the upcoming NFL schedule.
"There will be an NFL season and I think we will start on time," Bryant said on Saturday afternoon during an appearance at a local department store about an hour from where he played at Oklahoma State. "I know Dallas will be ready to go, and I'll be ready to put on my helmet and go to work."
Bryant said he had no lingering effects from the broken ankle he suffered against Indianapolis in early December. It put an abrupt stop to his rookie season, when he had 45 catches for 561 yards and six touchdowns and also returned two punts for touchdowns.
"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."
While the NFL lockout is keeping players away from the team's facility, Bryant and his teammates are working out.
"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 reportedly faces more than $800,000 in debt and lawsuits after several spending sprees.
"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."
His offseason problems and the lockout did little to dissuade both Dallas and Oklahoma State Cowboys 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 Dallas owner Jerry Jones.
"From what I see, my relationship with Mr. Jones is fabulous," Bryant said. "The relationship between Big Tony (Romo) 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."
The second-year receiver also said he's excited to begin working with his new position coach, Jimmy Robinson, who signed with Dallas less than a 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."