Former Pokes QB Cornelius Looking to Shine in XFL, Dez Working to get back in NFL

Robert Allen

STILLWATER -- Week two of the action in the XFL and Taylor Cornelius got his second start for the now 0-3 Tampa Bay Vipers. Cornelius is getting the blame for the tough start from Tampa fans. Meanwhile, in Dallas Dez Bryant is back showing off his form again after getting healthy and playing catch with a Super Bowl winning quarterback with the hopes he will get the attention of the Dallas Cowboys or somebody else to give him another shot in the NFL.

Bryant
Dez Bryant in happier days when he was on the roster catching passes for the Dallas Cowboys.USA Today Sports Images

Dez Bryant has had a rough couple of seasons, cut by the Dallas Cowboys and then finally picked up by the New Orleans Saints late in the 2018 season and Bryant blew out his achillies and missed the opportunity. He struggled some since to stay healthy and New Orleans released him. Now Bryant is trying to show NFL personnel executives that he is ready to help somebody as video is out of him running routes and catching passes from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

I'm convinced that anybody looks good catching passes from Mahomes. It works well for another former Oklahoma State Cowboy in Tyreek Hill. Bryant, who has consistently maintained that he is still able to play and help an NFL offense also was interviewed by Jane Slater of the NFL Network for the The Boys and Girl Podcast.

“My message is this right here, first and foremost, I’ve never been a speed guy, so I just block that out," Bryant told Slater and producer Bobby Belt. "I’ve been running routes, my routes have improved tremendously thanks to this guy over here (Robinson), specially getting in and out of my breaks.”

Bryant mentions that the last two years have been difficult. He still believes he can play and the video shows he has a case. Payton Robinson has been his personal receivers coach and he has been helped by others including Mahomes throwing passes for him. 

“Mentally, I felt like I had a lot of mixed emotions," said the former Lufkin High School standout, Oklahoma State Cowboy and Dallas Cowboys star. "I had just been recently cut from the Cowboys. I wasn’t really trying to play football that year but I’ll save that for another time. I just wasn’t where I needed to be, mentally. I appreciate coach Payton for bringing me in and believing in me and I appreciate those guys that were there because they showed me crazy love, the best 48 hours of my life, it’s up there.”

Now we'll see what kind of interest there is. Bryant may have to wait until after the NFL Draft as so many teams have their sights set on some of the outstanding young receiver talent available in the draft this spring. 

Taylor Cornelius just a little over a year removed from starting at quarterback at Oklahoma State is having a similar problem to what he had in college. The native of Bushland, Texas never could secure the appreciation of fans. 

Cornelius Vipers
Taylor Cornelius winds up for a pass in a road game at Seattle in week two of the XFL season.XFL/Tampa Bay Vipers

Cornelius improved greatly last week connecting on 16-of-31 passing for 193-yards for the Tampa Bay Vipers, who lost to the Houston Roughnecks 34-27. Cornelius traded off with "wildcat" style quarterback Quenton Flowers. It doesn't help that Flowers is out of South Florida or that injured original starter Aaron Murray is out of Tampa Plant High School. Cornelius is the outsider and even though he ran for a touchdown and threw for one, Cornelius was booed by the Tampa crowd when he came out of a possession late in the game. 

He also threw a pick on the last possession to basically end the game. 

"We felt we needed to stay with the plan," head coach Marc Trestman said after the game. "Taylor had got us down there and he had been effective and we felt like we needed to stay with him."

Tampa Bay's problems are far from being limited to quarterback as they had a lot of dropped passes and trouble hanging onto the ball at times when they had possession. 

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