Tales of Dez Bryant‘s demise were premature.
Bryant will attempt to play in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Dallas Cowboys receiver made the decision after gaining a second opinion Wednesday on the broken finger he suffered in a Week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bryant’s thinking doesn’t guarantee he will play, however. The Cowboys placed a hard splint on Bryant’s finger today. The Cowboys want to see if the splint will provide enough protection to prevent permanent damage. Bryant will require surgery after the season if he puts it off now.
"We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now," coach Jason Garrett told reporters. "He did see the doctor (Wednesday) and nothing’s really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday.
"It seems like he’s feeling fine, but we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision, as well."
Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate Bryant catching passes in Thursday’s session.
"We just have to decide what we want to do," Garrett said. "He certainly has a willingness to play and he certainly has the toughness to play. We just have to see if he can function as he needs do."
RELATED: Cowboys preparing for Dez Bryant to play Sunday vs. Steelers
IRVING – Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Thursday morning that Dez Bryant’s Wednesday visit with a second hand specialist revealed “pretty similar” information to the first examination. Bryant has a fractured left index finger that requires surgery.
But that doesn’t eliminate the Cowboys wide receiver from playing on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bryant has said all week that he desires to play through the injury.
The Cowboys plan to test Bryant’s finger by having him catch passes, however, that has not occurred this week and Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate it occurring on Thursday. Although Bryant still has swelling in his finger he appeared to be prepared to catch passes during the media portion of Thursday’s practice. On his left hand, the 24-year-old was wearing a padded white glove that allowed the tip of his index finger to be exposed.
“We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now,” Garrett said Thursday. “He did see the doctor yesterday. Nothing has really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday. Seemed like he was feeling fine. But we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly a part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision as well.”
The Cowboys training staff has been looking into splints and taping methods that would allow Bryant to play. The risk with delaying surgery and playing through the injury is that Bryant runs the risk of facing permanent stiffness, which would likely affect his ability to catch passes.
“We’re going to give him every chance to play,” Garrett said. “If it’s wait to Saturday [to catch passes] or wait to Sunday, we’ll give him every chance to do it.”
Bryant made a 27-yard touchdown grab after sustaining the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. When it was suggested to Garrett that Bryant’s adrenaline probably allowed him to make that grab despite the injury, the Cowboys coach responded: “There will probably be a little adrenaline on Sunday.”
Garrett then smiled and walked away.
RELATED: Garrett does not anticipate Bryant catching passes today
Garrett told reporters at his daily press conference that he didn’t anticipate Bryant practicing or even catching the ball off on the side, as was expected by team sources earlier on Wednesday.
Bryant did jog out to practice Thursday with his left hand in a white glove that had a hole for his fractured left index finger to stick out. He didn’t have time to catch a pass during the media portion of practice.
After the morning press conference, Garrett said Bryant’s fractured left index finger still has too much swelling to risk catching passes.
“We’re going to have to do that at some point,” Garrett said of allowing Bryant to catch passes. “But I don’t think that day is today.”
Still, the goal to get Bryant ready to play Sunday against Pittsburgh appears unchanged. Bryant has seen two hand specialists this week and it’s believed that surgery to repair the finger in an option, but one that would end his season. However, not having surgery would increase the risk for long-term injury to his finger.
At this point, that appears a risk that Bryant is willing to take. However, if he doesn’t prove to the Cowboys this week that he can function, albeit wearing a splint, or padded gloves or fingers taped together, then the club will have no other choice but to rest him.
Obviously the Cowboys don’t want to risk further injury for Bryant, but his services are definitely needed. In the last five games, a span the Cowboys have gone 4-1, Bryant has caught seven touchdowns – all in the second half.
This past week, he went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, and has a team-high 1,028 yards with nine touchdowns. His 75 receptions rank second only to Jason Witten (92).
Bryant also has a touchdown catch in the last five games, the third-longest streak in Cowboys history.
RELATED: Garrett confirms Dez Bryant plans to delay surgery
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant plans to delay season-ending surgery on his fractured left index finger and try to play Sunday against the Steelers, even though it could possibly cause long-term damage.
Coach Jason Garrett said no definitive decision has been made on Bryant. But he said the Cowboys are going to give Bryant every chance to play.
Bryant has not caught passes this week and will not do so today, because the finger still is swollen. Garrett said Bryant will try to do so at some point, possibly even waiting until game day.
"We are going to give him every chance to play," Garrett said. "If that is wait til Saturday (to catch passes), then we will wait til Saturday. If it’s wait til Sunday, it’s wait til Sunday. We will give him every chance to do it."
Garrett indicated the Cowboys are confident Bryant might be able to go Sunday because he caught a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Bengals last week after fracturing the finger and having it taped together with the middle finger.
"He made a good catch after he was hurt the other day in the game," Garrett said.
Asked if that was because of the adrenaline of playing in the game and the lack of swelling at the time, Garrett responded with "it will probably be a little adrenaline in Sunday."
RELATED: Bryant wears white padded glove to start of Cowboys practice
Today brought the first glimpse of what the Dallas Cowboys might do to give Dez Bryant a chance to play.
He came out to practice wearing a white glove on his left hand.
Before practice, coach Jason Garrett talked about how the Cowboys and Bryant can protect the finger.
“We’re looking at that right now and seeing if there’s anything we can get started on,” Garrett said. “I know Jim Maurer and his crew have been working hard on that over the last couple of days. And again, I think it’s very specific to the player. You have to customize it to see how you can function. This has gone on in football for a long, long time. Does that feel comfortable? Do you think you can do this, that or the other thing with that? Let’s change it up, let’s make it bigger, let’s make it smaller.
“Certainly we want to protect Dez. We want to give him every chance we can if we put him out there.”
Bryant did not catch a pass in pat-and-go while reporters were present.