The Dallas Cowboys have an opportunity on Sunday to evaluate youth in a meaningful contest without taking too much of a risk. However, that won’t happen if team owner and general manager Jerry Jones has his way; he usually does. Dallas receiver Dez Bryant is questionable for the Cowboys’ game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday after he bruised his thigh in Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the New York Jets. The Cowboys should use this as an opportunity to rest Bryant and see what third receiver Kevin Ogletree can do against a first-team NFL defense.
Like I said, that probably won’t happen because Jones is big about playing guys like Bryant if at all possible. Bryant was brilliant against Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis on Sunday, catching three passes for 71 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. Then Bryant was extremely sluggish for the remainder of the game after he injured his thigh during a punt return. Still, he insisted on staying in the game and was a big reason the Cowboys ended up blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead.
Bryant is very athletic and an incredibly talented receiver, but he doesn’t know when to take himself out of the game for the good of the team. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett needs to teach him that on Sunday by resting him and letting Ogletree get some reps.
Ogletree was promoted to the No. 3 receiver on the detph chart by the process of elimination when Dallas cut veteran Roy Williams in the offseason. The third-year receiver only caught three passes for 34 yards in the preseason, so now would be a good time to test him with a weak 49ers pass defense that finished 24th in the NFL a year ago.
This is a double whammy for the Cowboys. Obviously, it would be better to have Bryant in the lineup if he’s healthy, but after being gassed in the New York game on top of his injury, I would sit him. Then the Cowboys don’t have to worry about whether or not he’s really healthy or if he’s just saying he is. On top of that, Dallas might uncover a gem in Ogletree much like it did with Miles Austin a couple of years ago. Austin is confident that Ogletree can help the Cowboys win this week if called upon.
“Kevin’s ready,” Austin said. “He knows all the positions, inside, outside. I feel like that’s one of the things a bunch of the receivers know, is all the positions. He’s definitely going to be ready if someone can’t go.”