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Ravens WR Dez Bryant on playing in first NFL game since 2017: ‘It’s surreal’

Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t make any catches in Sunday’s 24-10 win over the Indianapolis Colts after getting called up from the practice squad. For the 32-year-old veteran, just making it back onto the field was an achievement.

Bryant played in his first game since Dec. 31, 2017, when he had three catches for 24 yards in the Dallas Cowboys' 6-0 win over the playoff-bound Philadelphia Eagles. Bryant didn’t reach the postseason that year with Dallas, but he has a good chance to be part of a playoff team this season in Baltimore.

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“It’s surreal — just being back in the locker room, just being on the sideline, just being here with these guys, it’s exciting," said Bryant, who arrived at the game wearing a purple Los Angeles Lakers jersey of the late Kobe Bryant. “Seeing the game up close versus just watching it on TV, I felt my competitive spirit come back alive.”

After being signed to the practice squad by the Ravens last week following a second workout in Baltimore, Bryant was elevated to the game-week roster Saturday. Coach John Harbaugh said he didn’t want to “force-feed” Bryant the ball as he works his way back into game shape and learns the offense. In fact, he spent his first week of practice on the scout team, imitating Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool. Career totals of 7,459 receiving yards and 73 touchdowns only go so far when you haven’t played a game in nearly three years.

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“I just can’t wait until he gets out there with us on Sundays and fully practices with us,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said Thursday.

Bryant played a few snaps Sunday, though Jackson didn’t look his way. He didn’t get a chance to throw up his signature “X" celebration. It didn’t matter much to Bryant. He was just happy to be on a winning team like the Ravens, which he described as “relentless.”

“These guys are absolutely amazing. It really doesn’t have anything to do with the physical ability – it’s the people,” Bryant said. "These are great guys. When I got here, they embraced me. It was all love. I’m very appreciative, and I think that’s why I’ve been able to practice so well, just because of the guys. I felt comfortable, and in order to have a great team, it starts with the guys first. I can see why these guys come out here and perform the way that they do; they’re great people.”

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