OXNARD, CA – The Dallas Cowboys and Dez Bryant himself continue to insist that he’s been sidelined since Aug. 6 with what is truly just a minor hamstring strain. Owner Jerry Jones now says there is such a lack of anxiety that “Dez’s preparation (will go) all the way up until we play the Giants” in week 1 of the regular season.
Meanwhile, Bryant himself tells me that being in bubble-wrap with his hamstring issue “is very frustrating. … But I feel good. Whenever I get back, I’ll be ready to roll and be on fire.’’
And when will that be?
“We’re hoping for Minnesota,’’ Bryant told me after a Sunday training-camp session during which he did mostly conditioning work. “Hopefully I’m back then against Minnesota (in week 3 of the preseason.) I feel good. I’m patiently waiting.’’
“I understand what’s going on,’’ he said.” I want to be out here with my teammates. But the coaches just want what’s best for me.’’
Said Jones, “There’s a lot of me that likes Dez, seriously, right where he is right now. He’s really working on his conditioning. I noticed how hard they had him out here working before the practice. I like that. I don’t think we’re missing anything. Dez wants to be out here, and it’s probably killing him not to be making plays. I know it is. But for our perspective, that’s working about where we want it to be.”
Even when the hyperactive Bryant is doing nothing, though, he’s doing plenty. His casual pregame toss-and-catch at San Diego on Thursday was actually a fairly rigorous workout. Same with his resistance training while wearing a helmet on Saturday.
Could he work today? Conceivably. Could he participate in this week’s combined practiced with the visiting St. Louis Rams? Probably. Could he play in their next preseason game Aug. 23 at the San Francisco 49ers.
Sure. But….that’s not the plan.
Coach Jason Garrett says Dez won’t work on Sunday and the plan is to keep him out of the Monday and Tuesday sessions, too. And that bubble-wrap will continue through next weekend, when Dallas plays at the Niners.
Just before Garrett’s announcement, I observed tryouts on the practice field involving David Porter of TCU, LaQuan Williams of Maryland and Demetrius Wilson of Arkansas. Candidates to serve as camp bodies, maybe, while Dallas insists there is no long-term problem at the position….yet Porter ended up getting signed.
“I don’t think in any way we’re going to be behind or limited as to Dez’s preparation the way it’s working right now,” Jones said, eyeballing the evening of Sunday, Sept. 13 at AT&T Stadium, “all the way up until we play the Giants.”
That’s Jerry’s big-picture goal. But Dez’ goal is week 3 of this preseason…and some way to occupy himself until then. Oh, and interestingly, when I tried to gauge the seriousness of the injury with an aforementioned assumption that Dez would be fine if there was a game that counted tomorrow, he was a tad less than convincing.
“I’d try my best,” he said. “It’d be like me going against the coaches. Me trying to get out there. But they just want the best for me.”
So, in the meantime?
“I am,” Dez Bryant said, “just that hyperactive kid.”