Dez Bryant, Punt Returns Don’t Mix; Cowboys WR Already Hurt Himself in Practice
There is such thing as a good problem in sports. Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant is too aggressive, something that many think is impossible as an NFL player. This “good problem” has led to numerous injuries in Bryant’s young NFL career. Now he’s going to return punts again for the Cowboys, a bad idea in my book. Why shouldn’t he, you ask? He hurt himself returning a punt in practice on Thursday.
There are few things on which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and I agree, but this is an exception. Earlier this week, Jones expressed his concern for Bryant’s health returning punts and refusing to go down when he gets wrapped up by a defender.
“Now, the game is one that you risk injury on every play, but because he just refuses to go down — which is a great thing about him — then you’ve got to watch using that in situations like kick returns,” Jones said. “We’ve got to watch him.”
I’m not going to say he’s injury prone, but I will say he’s more subject to getting hit and hurt with the way he stands up and fights it than probably any player we’ve got. We’ve got to get others ready to return those kicks.”
Without a defender near him, Bryant “nicked his right foot” returning a punt during a drill on Thursday. The team moved practice inside Cowboys Stadium due to undesirable weather conditions, so Bryant didn’t slip. You can hardly call it an injury because he jumped up and jogged over to a passing drill after taking off his shoe and examining his foot. Bryant wasn’t attended to by a trainer and didn’t even wrap his foot, but to disagree with Jones, Bryant is injury-prone.
Like I’ve said many times before, Bryant is the most dynamic playmaker on the Cowboys’ roster. He is by far the best option to return punts; he took two back for touchdowns during his rookie season a year ago.
Still, that doesn’t trump his significance as a receiver. The Cowboys would far rather have Bryant on the field to catch jump balls in the end zone and catch sideline pass on third down than gaining a few extra yards on a punt and then twisting his ankle. Dallas should tread lightly with Bryant.
Contact Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin