Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wants to see another doctor to help determine if he can play the rest of this season with a broken finger on his left hand.
Coach Jason Garrett said the team was trying to get as much medical information as possible to make a decision for ”the best way to handle it for now and the future.”
Bryant broke his left index finger in Sunday’s 20-19 win at Cincinnati, though he returned to the game after the injury and caught a touchdown pass. He has TD catches in each of the last five games.
During the portion of practice opened to the media Wednesday, Bryant was wearing his No. 88 jersey with no wraps or bandages on his left hand when he ran on the field. He spoke briefly with a strength coach, then went over to where the team was before going back into the locker room.
Garrett had never anticipated Bryant practicing because he ”probably” still had swelling in his hand.
”One of the things we know about Dez is he’s a tough guy and he loves playing football,” Garrett said. ”He’s going to give himself and our team every chance possible to play in this ballgame and continue to play this season.”
The Cowboys (7-6), a game behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants, play at home Sunday against Pittsburgh. They have won four of their last five games, a stretch in which Bryant has 33 catches for 525 yards and seven TDs.
Among the biggest questions is if Bryant would be risking long-term damage to his finger if he plays, especially if the third-year pro was to reinjure it this season.
”I would say that’s an overriding question with all injuries. And certainly the willingness of the player to play, the ability of the player to function like he needs to function are big questions as well,” Garrett said. ”But certainly his health now, his health going forward are huge factors in making this decision.”
Garrett said they would wait and see what information they get from the doctor before making any decisions.
Before Bryant would be able to play against the Steelers, Garrett said the receiver would have to get to a point where he is functional to practice and then see how he does there.
On his twice-weekly radio show Tuesday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the decision on playing would be up to Bryant. Garrett said Wednesday that Bryant and ”a lot of people” would be involved in the decision.
”Certainly the player has a lot to do with his willingness and ability to play. But again, the medical part is a big piece and his ability to function is a big piece,” Garrett said.
When Terrell Owns was with the Cowboys in 2006, he kept playing after breaking a finger the first month of the season. He played the rest of the games without reinjuring it, then had surgery after that.
Bryant is having his best NFL season with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine TDs. He is 11th in the league in receptions, 10th in yardage and eighth in scoring for non-kickers.
”Dez has been outstanding. He’s gotten better and better really each and every day since he’s been here. I think he’s understanding more and more how to prepare himself to play at a top-level week in and week out,” Garrett said. ”Where he’s made his greatest strides is day in and day out, play in and play out, game in and game out. He’s just gotten better and better and better and it’s shown in his results.”