Dez Bryant, the student, knows exactly what Dez Bryant, the player, is stepping into as the newest member of the New Orleans Saints.
The three-time Pro Bowl, one-time All-Pro receiver looks around his new locker room, and he hears bleating all around him.
“I’m extremely excited,” Bryant said Thursday afternoon. “That baby (greatest of all time) GOAT (receiver) Mike Thomas, that baby GOAT (running back) Alvin Kamara and the big GOAT, (quarterback) Drew Brees. (Running back) Mark Ingram, (cornerback Marshon) Lattimore – I’m just excited to play with these guys.”
Bryant, who is in his ninth season, will look to add production to a Saints’ receiving corps that has a significant drop-off between Thomas and the next receiver. Thomas has 70 catches for 880 yards and five touchdowns, all team-leading numbers. The next highest numbers posted by receivers are 12 receptions (by Tre’Quan Smith and Ted Ginn Jr., who is on injured reserve), 214 yards and three touchdowns (Smith).
To make room for Bryant, New Orleans placed Cameron Meredith (nine catches for 114 yards and a touchdown) on injured reserve. Meredith, who tore his ACL and MCL in 2017 and missed the ’17 season, has been battling swelling in his left knee and will have arthroscopic surgery.
Bryant worked out for the Saints on Tuesday, and agreed to terms Wednesday.
“I was just at home, doing my normal routines – work out, working on my projects,” he said. “I got a call from Coach (Sean) Payton, we talked for a little bit, I flew down, we merged and I’m here.
“Who wouldn’t want to play with Drew Brees? Not taking away from nobody else, but you got a guy like Drew Brees, you’ve got a guy like Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, you’ve got those type of guys. Little baby GOATS around here.”
The baby GOATS understand what the addition of Bryant could mean to the offense and locker room.
“He’s another play-maker,” Ingram said. “A guy who is very passionate, cares about the game, cares about doing well, wants to win championships, wants to win games. Good dude, had a lot of success in the league and a big-time play-maker. So, we’re looking forward to having him and getting him ready to go for us.”
Ingram said Bryant was welcomed with open arms.
“Good to see him out here,” Ingram said. “We’re welcoming all dawgs, all beasts, to the Saints. It’s good to have a guy like that – passionate, had a lot of success in this league. So just to add him to our group, we’re excited about that.”
What remains is to give Bryant a crash course on the Saints offense, and attempt to get him prepared to contribute in Sunday’s road game against the Bengals.
Payton said Thursday morning that Bryant possibly could be ready to play in third down and red zone situations.
“Whatever Coach sees,” Bryant said. “Coach believes in me, I’m there. Coach is outstanding, he’ll put that confidence in you. That’s one thing I love about him.”
First look: Dez Bryant at Saints practice
Dez Bryant takes the field for his first New Orleans Saints practice at Ochsner Sports Perforrmance Center on November 8, 2018.