Thigh bruise or not, Dallas Cowboys need Dez Bryant to play Monday
Dallas Morning News
But wide receiver Dez Bryant can’t play because of a bruised thigh?
To be fair, Bryant’s injury is a deep thigh bruise and it’s on the inside part of his leg, which is harder to recover from, as opposed to the outside. But no matter how you slice it, it’s still a bruise.
Bryant didn’t practice last week – and thus wasn’t available for comment – and tested his thigh out before the game against San Francisco, but he couldn’t run.
“We were hopeful by the end of the week that that thing would loosen up a little bit and he could run a little bit better,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. “He worked out before the game and it still was very stiff, so if you’re not able to run, at any position but particularly at the receiver position, you’re going to have a hard time playing.”
The Cowboys aren’t sure if Bryant will be able to play Monday in the home opener against Washington.
“We’re hopeful that that thing gets drained out a little bit this week,” Garrett said, “and he can run a little more in practice.”
Bryant has matured since his rookie season but his inability to stay on the field is a glaring issue for a player with so much potential.
Bryant missed the Cowboys’ final four games last season when he broke his fibula returning a kickoff. His thigh bruise came on a punt return. Bryant was also slowed his rookie season with a hamstring injury, a high ankle sprain and even food poisoning.
Bryant is a difference-maker when he’s healthy and has the talent to become an elite receiver in the NFL. But if he can’t stay on the field, he’ll never be the receiver the Cowboys believe he can be.
Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who coached Bryant in college, told KESN-FM 103.3 this week that the Cowboys shouldn’t be concerned with Bryant’s string of injuries.
“He’s had a little run of bad luck,” Gundy said. “He was healthy with us. We didn’t have any issues with him.”
Bryant’s hustle and passion for the game can’t be questioned. He plays all-out and is an animal on the field. He always fights for extra yards and isn’t a player likely to run out of bounds when lowering his shoulders could get him up the field.
Garrett said earlier this year he’s not going to discourage Bryant – or any player – from fighting for extra yards when it’d be safer for him to get down and avoid further contact and possibly injury. That’s understandable.
But Bryant’s no-holds-barred style is exactly why he shouldn’t be used on special teams.
The risk isn’t worth the reward.
With Austin not playing Monday against Washington, the Cowboys really need Bryant to be on the field. Kevin Ogletree as the No. 1 receiver isn’t an attractive alternative.
Q: Why doesn’t [Jason] Garrett use Tashard Choice more? He seemed the most effective running back against San Francisco.
Chris Kline, Blue Ridge Mountains, N.C.
GEORGE: Choice had five carries for five yards against San Francisco and that included a 5-yard run. Choice has eight carries for nine yards this season. He’s been a total non-factor. If Felix Jones can’t play Monday against Washington because of his separated shoulder or is limited, look for rookie DeMarco Murray to get more time than Choice. He seems like the better option right now. Choice talks a big game but doesn’t back it up.
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Q: Why do the Cowboys always seem to use all of the play clock on every down? By letting the play clock run down to the very last tick, does that not give an advantage to the defensive linemen?
Jeff Rogers, Gilbert, Arizona
GEORGE: They haven’t used the entire play clock on every down. Actually, coach Jason Garrett emphasizes getting the play call in early enough to not put the offense in a position where it has to rush. Garrett said recently that, having been an NFL quarterback, he knows as well as anyone how important it is to get the play in quickly so there are no mistakes made because they’re hurried.
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Q: Why are the Cowboys not using fullbacks now? What do you think the problem is is with the run game?
Raphael McRae, Conover, N.C.
GEORGE: The Cowboys are still using a fullback, though not as much as last season. They went without a true fullback in the first game but re-signed Tony Fiammetta at fullback for the San Francisco game and he was in for eight plays. As he continues to learn the offense, he’ll likely see more playing time going forward. Certainly, the Cowboys need the help in the run game.
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Q: Was cutting [center] Andre Gurode the stupidest thing the Cowboys could have possibly done?
Eric Prasse, Dallas
GEORGE: I don’t think it was stupid. Gurode wasn’t playing at the level or even near the level he was getting paid. Second-year pro Phil Costa really impressed the Cowboys in training camp and out-performed Gurode. Costa costs much less against the salary cap. Additionally, Gurode came into training camp having had surgery a few weeks before the first practice (and not telling the Cowboys) and wasn’t in shape.
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Q: What are your thoughts on the use of Phillip Tanner? He seems to be the closest we have to a power back who will at least put his head in there.
Steven Campbell, Houston
GEORGE: Tanner, the Kimball product, was active for the first time Sunday and played on special teams. He won’t likely see any time running the ball soon unless the Cowboys rid themselves of Tashard Choice, who isn’t producing right now. Running backs coach Skip Peete told me last week that Felix Jones is his No. 1 option in short-yardage situations. But I believe that rookie DeMarco Murray, who runs harder than Choice and Jones, could eventually become the top option in short yardage.