Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant drags Miami Dolphins cornerback Vontae Davis (21) on a 2nd quarter pass reception.
Diammond Dez Bryant is poised to be the Cowboys primary punt return man for the remainder of the season.
All it took was an undetermined illness to the team’s starting fullback and the impending return of receiver Miles Austin to make it happen. Here’s how the dominos will fall in the next few hours.
The club does not believe fullback Tony Fiammetta will be able to return for Sunday’s game against Arizona and is unsure about his status for the remainder of the season. The plan is to sign rookie Shaun Chapas from the practice squad before Wednesday’s practice. The Cowboys are expected to release Akwasi Owusu-Ansah to make room for Chapas on the active roster.
Owusu-Ansah has been the team’s primary punt return man the last three games. His departure and Austin’s anticipated return from a pulled hamstring means the Cowboys are more comfortable with installing Bryant as their punt return specialist. Even if Austin is unable to return against the Cardinals, the Cowboys appear committed to Bryant as their punt returner.
Bryant is much more of a threat than Owusu-Ansah. His 20-yard return in the final three minutes of the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving Day helped set up the team’s game-winning field goal drive.
Bryant returned 15 punts for 215 yards and two touchdowns in 2010.
ROSTER MOVES: Dallas Cowboys cut WR Akwasi Owusu-Ansah | Will sign FB Shaun Chapas off practice squad
The Cowboys have cut receiver Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and will sign fullback Shaun Chapas off the practice squad, a source said on Tuesday.
The move speaks to the continued uncertainty over the return of fullback Tony Fiammetta who has missed the last games with an unknown illness. The Cowboys trainers and doctors have been puzzled by Fiammetta’s condition and there has been no timetable for his return.
The running game has certainly suffered in his absence. Rookie sensation DeMarco Murray rushed for 601 yards in four games with Fiammetta as the lead blocker. He has rushed in the 160 yards in the two games since.
Third tight end John Phillips has done a good job substituting for Chapas but he is not a true fullback, prompting the move with Chappas and the release Owusu-Ansah, who has served as the primary kick returner.
“We’ve seen how good we are or can be when we have that prototype fullback in there,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday on his local radio show on KRLD-FM. “We don’t want to in any way put a cookie-cutter approach to what the fullback is. The fullback has unique skills when he’s good, and Tony is good. He knows how to get in the way of the defensive guys. He puts himself in position to help the running back with not necessarily the crushing block, but also the finesse blocks that you have inside there. I think it’s an instinct. He has that. I think we do miss him.”
The Cowboys were able to make the move because they are now using running back Felix Jones on kickoff returns. And with Miles Austin expected to return at receiver, they can use Kevin Ogletree on punt returns as well as Dez Bryant in special situations.