From Comcast SportsNetIRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys are trying to provide some guidance for Dez Bryant, the talented young receiver who has had issues off the field.Coach Jason Garrett wouldn't go into specifics Monday or describe potential discipline for not abiding by the rules, but he said the Cowboys (No. 15 in AP Pro32) want to support Bryant and his family."What we've tried to do is come up with a plan for Dez like we would for any player who we feel like needs our support, and help him be his best as a player and as a person," Garrett said. "And the accountability factor is an important part of that with him and with anybody on our football team."According to numerous reports, Bryant will attend weekly counseling sessions, have a full-time security team and not be allowed to consume alcohol or attend strip clubs. The security members will drive Bryant to team functions, including practices and games, and the receiver will also be subject to a curfew.Bryant was arrested in July for allegedly assaulting his mother, who has since said she doesn't want authorities to pursue charges against him. The Dallas County district attorney's office has yet to make a decision about misdemeanor family violence charges.There is still the chance that the NFL could discipline Bryant, who is going into his third season with the Cowboys.NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press in an email Monday that the league "will review the facts once the case is resolved by the court." He said the team's guidelines for Bryant will have nothing to do with league discipline."We're going to control what we can control as an organization, and Dez has done everything that we've asked him to do up to this point both on and off the football field," Garrett said. "Any decision about that is out of our control."Despite other off-the-field issues in the past, Bryant was having a solid offseason until his arrest two weeks before the start of training camp. Bryant's adviser, David Wells, and the player's attorney, Royce West, didn't return messages to the AP."We have some things in place and we are still in the process of working out the rest," Wells told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a story published Monday. "We are all working together to accomplish some things to help him succeed."Bryant hasn't been available to speak to reporters since the start of training camp because of his pending legal issues. He didn't talk in the locker room after practice Monday.In 2008, the Cowboys had a security detail in place for Adam "Pacman" Jones, who had missed all of the previous season with Tennessee and was coming off a 17-month NFL suspension because of repeated legal troubles. Six weeks after being reinstated by the NFL, Jones was involved in an alcohol-related scuffle with one of his bodyguards at a private party in Dallas and was suspended for six games. He was cut by the Cowboys after the season.Cowboys owner Jerry Jones waited a couple of weeks after Bryant was arrested, and a couple of days after the team got to California for training camp, to talk with Bryant. The owner, who called it a serious situation, said he was disappointed and didn't want to be emotional when talking to Bryant.Jones said then that Bryant had already been involved in the team's counseling program.Bryant surrendered to authorities July 16, two days after his mother, Angela, made a 911 call about the alleged assault. The 23-year-old receiver is only 14 years younger than she is.There had been some trouble for Bryant even before the Cowboys drafted Bryant with the 24th overall pick in 2010.Bryant missed nearly his entire last college season at Oklahoma State because of an NCAA suspension for lying about having dinner with Deion Sanders. He ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills on game tickets and jewelry, and was sued by people who said they were creditors.Last year, he was kicked out of an upscale Dallas mall for wearing sagging pants. In January, he was reportedly involved in a fight with the rapper Lil Wayne at a Miami nightclub.Bryant said during the offseason that he was spending more time with the playbook, watching more film and concentrating on his conditioning. There were no issues until the incident with his mother, and haven't been any known problems since then.During the early portion of practice Monday open to reporters, Bryant was initially catching some passes from backup quarterback Rudy Carpenter. Bryant, who has been dealing with right knee tendinitis, then did some rehab work with a trainer alongside tight end Jason Witten (spleen).Bryant and the most of the Cowboys starters aren't expected to play in Wednesday night's preseason finale against Miami. That comes a week before their regular-season opener at the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.Teammate Marcus Spears said the guidelines were between Bryant and team ownership, but that he was "pretty sure" they were on the same page."Whatever they're doing, they're doing the right things," backup quarterback Kyle Orton said. "He's a special player. He's one of those guys, you find ways to get him the ball. ... You want to give him a lot of touches because one of those touches is going to be a special play, and there's very few of those guys around."
The Vertical's Chris Mannix joins Toucher & Rich to discuss what it would take for the Celtics to seriously attract Kevin Durant to sign with Boston this offseason.
Chris Mannix talks with Toucher & Rich about what Danny Ainge's plan should be if they are unable to pull off the unlikely scenario of signing Kevin Durant in free-agency, with Boston having a ton of cap space and assets.
This is the second in a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction.
In the days after the Bruins' regular-season demise, it was striking to hear Don Sweeney speak about the development path of David Pastrnak.
The Bruins general manager paid the second-year forward perfunctory compliments about the prodigious skill set that made him a first-round draft choice. Pastrnak -- in spite of getting almost no power-play time, even though he's one of the most gifted offensive players on the roster -- scored five more goals and roughly the same number of points in about the same number of games as he did in his rookie year, despite suffering a fractured foot in the first month and then competing in the World Junior tourney around the holidays. He also gained steam at the end of the season, scoring goals in three of the final four games while the rest of his teammates struggled.
But Pastrnak, one of the youngest players in the NHL at age 19, struggled with puck management and turnovers, and had some rough nights as a teenager making his way in a rough-and-tumble man’s league. He's still on the learning curve, something Sweeney readily acknowledges.
“The impatience about putting players [at the NHL level] before they’re ready, it shows up at times,” said Sweeney, who invoked Pastrnak’s name while answering a question about the potential NHL readiness of promising young B's prospect Danton Heinen. “It absolutely does. We’re talking about David Pastrnak, who leads the league in giveaways per 60 minutes. He’s a tremendous talent and a tremendous young man with tremendous character, and he wants to get better and needs to get stronger.
“At times it’s unfair to [coach Claude Julien] that people will be like ‘Ah, there’s Pastrnak not out there on the ice in this situation.’ But [Julien's] the same guy that put [Pastrnak] out there (in a crucial late-season game against the Red Wings with the Bruins leading 5-1) and he makes a bad mistake and they score . . .
"That’s a bit of give-and-take that everybody has to understand with our younger players. You have to hope that they’re ready for it. [We've] done it properly (in the past) . . . [Brad Marchand] started on the fourth line and worked his way up.
"David has been up and down a little bit. That’s the piece where we need to have some depth, and we’re in a transition to get there.”
Sweeney's mention of Marchand illustrates the Bruins' problem. When Marchand broke in, the Bruins were a talented Stanley Cup contender. His first full season was 2010-11, the year Boston won the Cup. The B's could afford to slowly develop him. letting him get his feet wet in low-pressure situations before asking more of him.
That's not the case today. The Bruins no longer have that kind of quality roster depth, and won't anytime soon unless a lot of these prospects come through. That means young players like Pastrnak are forced into bigger roles they might not be ready for.
And that strikes right at the heart of Boston’s development missteps from last season.
Some of it was organizational. It seemed pretty clear by the end of the season that Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow and Brett Connolly aren’t going to develop into core players in Boston. That's just the way it is in a results-oriented business like the NHL. It doesn’t necessarily reflect poorly on the coaching staff’s work, as great coaching can’t magically turn a borderline NHL player into something he’s not.
But while the coaches handled Pastrnak well, they failed at times with Frank Vatrano and Colin Miller. Both showed flashes of NHL ability throughout the season, but spoke of losing their confidence based on their erratic usage patterns. The two of them needed stints in the American Hockey League to get their respective grooves back.
In particular, the electric Vatrano should have been back up with the B's weeks sooner than he was. The Bruins were struggling to score goals and he was rifling them home at a goal-per-game pace in Providence. As soon as he returned to Boston, he posted four points in his five games.
With Julien returning and the Bruins intent on introducing more young talent to the lineup, the transition into the NHL needs to be streamlined.
Given how much of a priority it is for Sweeney, there's no reason to think the process won't be improved.
The hope is that the next crop of B’s prospects will yield results. First-round picks from other organizations, like Morrow and Connolly, mostly fizzled last season, but Boston’s own crop of young players -- Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Austin Czarnik, Noel Acciari -- should augment the contributions of newcomers like Vatrano and Miller. And while most of last year's first-round selections (Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn) are probably still more than a year away, the feeling is there'll be a promising return from that batch of draftees. In addition, the Bruins have another two first-round picks this year.
Upper management makes the point that the present situation began developing in the final years of Peter Chiarelli's watch. With singular exceptions like Marchand the team was unable to develop its own talent, which led to overpaying veterans to stay competitive, which led to severe salary-cap issues, which led to the decay of the franchise we've witnessed over the last two seasons.
"I think for a period of time we stopped being in an invest mode (and instead ran) with the guys we had," said owner Jeremy Jacobs. "You pay a price in this game if you’re not constantly investing in the next generation.”
Now, however, it's time to stop the finger-pointing and begin the rebuild in earnest. To their credit, the Bruins say they're doing just that.
“I think we did take a step back this year for that very purpose,” said Jacobs.
Investing in youth is simply the way of the salary-cap world, for the Bruins and everybody else in the NHL. It will have to mean patience and longer leashes for young players under Julien.
“The younger players that we’ve drafted and recently signed and are going to develop are a big part of [the future], as long as they’re good enough players," said Sweeney. "We expect them to be. But when . . . you put them in your lineup is important . . .
"This ownership is very, very supportive of what we need to do. It’s just, ‘Get it done.’ So that’s why the chair is warm [for everybody].”
While Julien clearly did play a role in the emergence of Marchand, David Krejci and Milan Lucic as NHL stars, developing young players has never been one of his coaching strengths. He certainly bears some responsibility for elite young talents like Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton not lasting in Boston. The warmth of his chair will depend largely on the development of the new crop of youngsters. That will be doubly so if Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy ends up getting a job as an assistant in Boston next season, and gets a chance to work with the young players he’s helped develop at the AHL level.
The bottom line is this for the Bruins: They need the best draft-and-development season they’ve had in quite a while if things are going to significantly change for the better on Causeway Street.