Just about every prediction made about Dez Bryant before the Cowboys drafted him in 2010 have come true.
He was universally described as an uncommonly talented player who could only stop himself from being a superstar in the NFL. We've seen signs of why people were worried about Bryant shooting himself in the foot -- figuratively, not in the Plaxico Burress way -- with his shouting matches with coaches on the sideline and inability or unwillingness to pay his bills.
But we've also seen the otherworldly talent. Bryant has every tool you could ever hope to see in a wide receiver, all of which were on display in the first half on Sunday when he caught two touchdowns on a bad thigh and put the Cowboys in position to win the game. He had the same kind of dominating performance early in the season opener against the Jets, but in each of those games he was a non-factor as the second half unfolded and the Cowboys choked the games away.
Bryant's inability to go the full 60 minutes is weighing on Jason Garrett. The coach said that he's concerned about Bryant's conditioning because of the impact the thigh injury has had on his ability to practice in the week leading up to games.
"Receivers need to be able to run throughout the ballgame, and when you don’t practice and you don’t run throughout the week, it’s hard for you to maintain the pace that you need to maintain throughout a 60-minute game."
The Cowboys are caught in a bit of a Catch-22 at receiver right now. Miles Austin's injury means that they can't afford to sit Bryant and put the kind of offense on the field that they need to win games. But pushing Bryant to play means that he can't practice and it means that his overall conditioning, which was a problem last year as well, isn't going to improve because he's inactive all week. And that leads to the second half disappearance against the Lions.
That makes the timing of the bye week quite fortuitous. The time off should give both receivers a chance to heal while also taking away the need to push Bryant in a game when his leg really isn't up to that kind of workload.
If the problem continues once Bryant is healthy, there's reason to be seriously concerned about the amount of work he puts in to get himself ready for games. As of now, they should be happy that they've gotten anything at all from Bryant (including the biggest play in the win over the Redskins) and hope that Week Six brings things back to full strength.