Editor’s note: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Cowboys matchups to watch Thursday, 1:30 p.m., at AT&T Stadium.
Raiders CB Tracy Porter vs. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
Tale of the tape:
Porter (23): 5-foot-11, 188 pounds, sixth season, Indiana
Bryant (88): 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, fourth season, Oklahoma State
Dez Bryant wants the darn ball. That was cleared during a classic sideline meltdown in a loss to the Lions, where he screamed a quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten.
Bryant claimed to be equal to Calvin Johnson, widely considered the NFL’s best receiver. On that day, Bryant wasn’t. On any other, he isn’t Johnson’s equal.
He is, at times, pretty darn close.
While Bryant can disappear at times, he’s become an elite NFL receiver. He has 61 receptions for 851 yards and eight touchdowns. He doesn’t catch a high percentage of his targets, but he’s a big-play threat with the ball in his hands.
“He’s big, physical and also got the top-end speed,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “He’s a guy that you try to get physical with and he can throw you around a bit and still get open. If you play off him, he’ll work underneath and make huge plays down the field with his run after catch. He’s a tough matchup.”
Phillip Adams will share covering Bryant at times and the Raiders will surely add safety help over the top, but veteran cornerback Tracy Porter will draw that matchup most of the time.
Porter has played well this season, proving adept at knocking sure completions to the ground. He’s a good in man coverage or zone, and has a penchant for making big plays.
One thing he can’t overcome is size. Bryant is taller and nearly 40 pounds heavier, with the ability to muscle his way open and fight to secure passes in the air.
Bryant’s targets – as high as 17, as low as two -- go in waves. He is Romo’s go-to guy some days and a second option at others. It depends on matchups across the pattern and coverage, but Bryant can be a real threat when utilized.