Bryant injury could be crushing for Cowboys

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
6:00
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So there is news on Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, and it is not good. There is a chance Bryant could require surgery on his finger that would end his season. According to ESPNDallas.com, Bryant was meeting with a hand specialist Monday to determine the proper course of action, which also could be to play hurt:
If Bryant needs surgery, he will miss the rest of the season. According to a source, the best-case scenario is that Bryant will be able to play with his fingers taped for the rest of the season and delay surgery.

Bryant suffered the injury on a 6-yard slant route after he was tackled by Adam "Pacman" Jones. Television replays show him shaking his finger and pulling on it as he lined up for the next play. He went to the sideline after a DeMarco Murray run and missed the next five plays. On the second play after his return, he caught a 27-yard touchdown to spark the Cowboys' rally.

Whether Bryant can play at the level at which he's been playing -- acrobatic sideline and end-zone catches, using his size to dominate matchups against defensive backs and make big-time plays after the catch -- with the injury is a question to which the Cowboys hope they'll be able to find the answer. Surgery that would end his season, and deprive the Cowboys of a receiver who has played as well as any in the league over the past five weeks, would be crushing to the Cowboys' sudden playoff hopes.

Dallas has won four of its past five games and improved to 7-6, one game behind the first-place New York Giants and tied with the Washington Redskins in the NFC East and one game out of an NFC wild-card spot. With tough games still remaining against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Redskins, it's not going to be easy for the Cowboys to get in anyway. If they have to play without Bryant, it's hard to imagine it's possible. The Cowboys are not a deep team, but are instead a team that needs its excellent players to play at a high level in order to sustain success. Bryant is one of those players, as his 33 catches for 525 yards and seven touchdowns in the past five games attest. Without him, quarterback Tony Romo would still have Miles Austin and tight end Jason Witten but would lose the receiver who has been his most reliable target during the current run. Replacing Bryant with Kevin Ogletree or Dwayne Harris or Cole Beasley would be an insufficient solution, since even if those guys were productive they can't play the way Bryant can play at his best.

So we wait to hear more. Could be Monday night, could be Tuesday, I don't know. If he has to have surgery, his season ends. If he doesn't, playing hurt could limit his production. Either way, it's the latest bit of bad news for the Cowboys in a year that has been too full of it. Considering what they've endured, from injuries on defense to the tragic car accident that happened Saturday, it's pretty remarkable that the Cowboys are over .500 with three games to go. The reason is that their elite players have performed when they've had to. If they lose Bryant, that takes a real hit.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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