If you were hoping for the tail end of the preseason to help get your excitement for the Dez Bryant Era kickstarted, you’re gonna have to wait a little bit longer. All signs point to the Cowboys’ headline rookie missing the entire preseason with a high ankle sprain:
The Cowboys first round pick has not been cleared to resume practice when the team returns to Oxnard for the final six days of training camp. When asked if he expected Bryant to be able to practice with the team at some point this week, head coach Wade Phillips said:
"I wouldn't think so. They (training staff) told me the first game.''
That would be against Washington on Sept. 12.
A high ankle sprain is the kind of injury that can nag a player all season long, so obviously it’s better to be cautious with Bryant’s injury than to see him gut out a couple of meaningless preseason games on a gimpy leg.
All that said, it’s time for people to really begin tempering their expectations for Bryant as we go into the season. Bryant is wildly talented, but if you think he’s a lock to catch 10 TDs and go for 1,200 yards, you are dumb. Great rookie wideout seasons are a rare commodity, and for every 1998 Randy Moss, there are about a dozen 2009 Darrius Heyward-Beys. The rule of wideouts emerging in Year 3 is obviously not a hard and fast one. Percy Harvin flourished his first year in Minnesota last year, and Pierre Garcon of the Colts and Mike Wallace of the Steelers weren’t far behind. But that doesn’t mean Bryant is somehow a lock to also break the mold.
Furthermore, the Cowboys don’t even NEED Bryant to be a world-beater right out of the gate. They already have Miles Austin and Jason Witten there to catch 80 or 90 balls each. Their success as a team this season isn’t dependent on Bryant going nutso. It would be a nice luxury, to be certain. But it’s not a necessity. The Cowboys need to have patience with Bryant in a way the fans may not. I doubt you see Bryant make any catches against the Skins in Week 1, if any.
It’s always fun to draft rookie skill position players and dream of them stepping onto the field the first time and destroying everything in sight. But with no preseason action to his credit and a lingering injury, you Cowboys fans are gonna have to slow down on the Dez For Prez express. He’s still just a rookie. And, as of right now, an injured one at that.