Cowboys’ Bryant ‘would be playing’ if return were his call
IRVING, Texas (AP) Dez Bryant says he wants to be smart about his return from a broken right foot, and knows that means including Dallas team doctors, trainers and coaches in the process.
”If the decision was left all up to me,” says the All-Pro receiver, ”I would be playing.”
Bryant was listed as questionable for the Seattle game Sunday, which will be seven weeks since he was injured in the opener against the New York Giants.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said the bone needed six weeks to heal, and there hasn’t been a direct answer to the question of whether it is fully healed. Other receivers who went through the same injury, including Atlanta’s Julio Jones, have cautioned Bryant about coming back too soon.
But the Cowboys (2-4) have lost four straight games without Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo, who broke his left collarbone a week after Bryant went down. Romo will miss at least three more games, and Dallas needs to win at least two of them to have realistic hopes of defending the NFC East title.
If Bryant does play after being listed as a limited participant in practice all week, he says he won’t be a limited participant against the Seahawks (3-4).
”If I play, I’m not thinking about nothing,” Bryant said. ”I’m playing. Dez is Dez. If I’m thinking, I have myself a little situation.”
Brandon Weeden lost all three of his starts in place of Romo, and the downfield passing game was almost nonexistent. Matt Cassel replaced Weeden last week and threw downfield plenty of times – with three interceptions.
So the question is whether the presence of Bryant will restore the threat of the outside receivers in the Dallas offense, and cut the risk of turnovers.
”He brings that leadership. He brings a presence,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. ”He brings a guy that defenses are obviously going to be keying in on, which in my mind helps other positions, helps other guys, helps the run game. The Dez effect I think is going to be what it was for us when he was out there.”
Bryant returned to the practice field during the bye two weeks ago, doing conditioning work on the side. That continued last week, and the question of a return against the Giants wasn’t settled until late in the week.
The sixth-year receiver still made the trip to New York even though he didn’t travel with the team. During the game, Bryant appeared to be trying to calm Greg Hardy after the defensive end had a shoving match with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia following a kickoff return for a touchdown that proved to be the decisive play in a fourth straight loss.
”That bothers me seeing my teammates. Because I’m part of that,” Bryant said, referring to the losing streak. ”We lose together, and I’m going to try my best to get out on the field and see what happens.”
Walking off the field in New York, Bryant declared to nobody in particular that the Cowboys were ”still going to run the East.”
”I meant what I said,” Bryant said Friday. ”We have enough time. We’ve just got to continue to keep on believing. We’re a strong team.”
That’s the type of thing that linebacker Sean Lee said the Cowboys miss without Bryant. Not to mention the pass-catching skills.
”You love playing with him because of the passion he brings to practice, the passion he brings to the game,” Lee said. ”He’s unbelievable, the way he plays, the way he runs routes, the way he can go up and catch a football. It’s fun seeing him back healthy.”
Bryant’s five-game absence is the longest of his career, surpassing the four games he missed at the end of his rookie season in 2010 with a broken ankle.
”Oh, man,” Bryant said. ”It seems like a year.”
The year could be up Sunday.
NOTES: RB Joseph Randle remained away from the team dealing with unspecified personal issues, and Jones said on his radio show that the NFL was reviewing a domestic incident involving Randle in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, in February for possible violations of the personal conduct policy. He had already been ruled out against the Seahawks because of a back injury. … S Barry Church (ankle) practiced for the first time this week on limited basis and is questionable. CB Morris Claiborne (illness) was a full participant and is probable.
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