Playing with fire never ends well. The Dallas Cowboys will be doing just that when the team travels to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles Sunday. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett announced Monday receiver Dez Bryant will return punts for Dallas in the contest and possibly from now on. Bryant is very injury-prone and special teams aren’t exactly safe phases of the game.
“Dez is actually the most reliable guy catching the ball, the most experienced guy catching punts besides being a guy who’s probably our most dangerous playmaker back there,” Garrett said. “So the combination of those things and his health led us to give him the opportunities.”
Don’t get me wrong; Bryant is a dynamite punt returner. The former Oklahoma State standout returned two punts for touchdowns during his rookie season a year ago. However, he’s a far more vital part of the Cowboys’ offense now. Dallas cannot afford to lose Bryant to another injury as he’s already missed two of the team’s six games this year. That’s not even mentioning his season-ending broken ankle in Week 10 of last season.
Bryant is simply a playmaker; there’s no arguing that. He’s slowly earning the No. 88 on his jersey, but he can’t do that on the sidelines. Garrett needs to be careful with Bryant because he is more important to the Cowboys’ offense than most people realize.
Whether or not Bryant catches 10 balls or scores touchdowns, he demands opposing defenses’ attention. This makes things easier for the Cowboys’ running backs and other receivers, specifically Miles Austin. The Cowboys would be better off with a 12-yard punt return and Bryant on the field than a 30-yard return and then lose him for the season. Don’t play with fire, Garrett.
Contact Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin