IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant credits his quiet, controversy-free offseason on maturity and finally finding himself.
"I'd say I found myself. I'm comfortable in my life," Bryant,24, said after the first workout of this week's OTAs. "I'm enjoying being in the NFL. I wish it could have been a couple years back, but I had to go through a couple of things to figure it out.
"I think I've got it. I'm just more focused on my job and doing what I love to do, and I just play football."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Bryant is no different than a lot of young guys who finally grow up and learn how to be a professional.
"Picture yourself as a 21-year-old coming into this environment, with all the hype and the circumstance around being a No. 1 draft pick in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys," Garrett said. "He had to work through that like a lot of guys have to work through that, and he had to mature and understand what's important.
"I think he's done all of that. ... He's gotten some of these other things in his life kind of organized, and together, it reflects in his play."
--Running back DeMarco Murray began OTAs on the sideline working with the trainers because of a tweaked hamstring. Add in the expected absence of fifth round pick Joseph Randle, who still rehabbing from thumb surgery, and the Cowboys began OTAs without their top two running backs.
The Cowboys are hopeful that Murray will be back for the second week of OTAs, while Randle could be out until training camp because he still has a cast on his hand.
Phillip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Kendial Lawrence got all work at running back as coach Jason Garrett said the team wants to be careful with Murray who has had a history of injuries since joining the team as a rookie in 2011.
"A very conservative approach with all these guys, he has a little hamstring tweak," Garrett said about Murray. "It's been bothering him for the last week or so, we don't want to put any of those guys in a situation where they're going to take a backward step. You want them all out there going 100 miles per hour, but we got to understand it is May 21, this is OTA 1 and we have a long way to go."
--Offensive tackle Doug Free finally accepted a pay cut as part of a new two year contract to avoid being cut. Free was scheduled to make $7 million in 2013 but now he will make $3.5 million in 2013 and 2014. His salary in 2013 is fully guaranteed. The salary in 2014 because fully guaranteed if he is on the roster on the fifth day of the new league year.
Basically Free is on a one-year deal for $3.5 million as he competes for the starting job at right tackle with Jermey Parnell.
If Free is cut and its designated as a June 1 move, he will count $3 million against the cap in 2014 and $3.98 million in 2015. As they will stay have to pay for the $32 million deal they gave him in 2011.