Bryant's injury, sustained in Sunday's win over the Bears and first diagnosed as a "sprained knee,'' will not require surgery. As of today — the day it seems Bryant finally underwent the telling MRI after oddly failing to do so on Monday or Tuesday — the star receiver was moving well through the locker room, singing and smiling and doing it all without crutches. (At least, that is, he was not on crutches while strolling past reporters.)
The way the information about Bryant's injury was handled caused more than a little consternation among the media covering the team, with reports that the fracture was first revealed not to Dallas beat writers, but during a conference call with media for the next opponent, the 49ers.
Garrett declined to elaborate on the medical process, or why it took the better part of three days for the Cowboys to receive a prognosis on the knee, saying only that Bryant had his knees evaluated after the game, followed by an MRI on Wednesday morning.
Earlier in the day, there were some suggestions that the problem with getting a definitive diagnosis lay not with the team, but with Bryant himself. That appears to have been confirmed.
The delay in the diagnosis of Dez Bryant's injury is because the Pro Bowl receiver missed team meetings on Tuesday and showed up late to the facility, missing a scheduled MRI, multiple sources said.
Bryant underwent an MRI Wednesday that revealed the receiver suffered a hairline fracture of the tibial plateau on his right knee, sources said. This is where the tibia connects to the knee.
The bottom line, of course, is whether Bryant will miss games, and how many. At the moment, he is being described by Jason Garrett with the ever-popular "day-to-day", but it seems likely he will miss some time.
Although Bryant hasn't been ruled out for Sunday, it appears unlikely that he will be able to play. There's no exact timetable for his return. He could miss one week or the next three.
And it may be even longer.
If Bryant does indeed miss a game or games, this year is starting to have an eerie similarity to 2015, when, as you may recall, the Cowboys were also missing Bryant, Tony Romo, and Orlando Scandrick all by this point in the season, plus they are missing the player who is thought to be their best edge rusher due to suspension again (Greg Hardy then, DeMarcus Lawrence now). They are not backing down from the challenge, however.
"We've got to deal with it, keep moving forward," tight end Jason Witten said. "We can't flinch. The obvious is that how good of a player he is and what he brings. But we've got to keep moving forward, find ways to win."
Of course, the one huge difference between this season and last is one Dak Prescott, who has been a revelation as a rookie quarterback who no one expected to make the leap to the pros with such, shall we say, poise. He is ready for the challenge.
"It's kinda this motto, don't blink, just come in and keep pushing as if the 11 we initially put out there are out there," Prescott said. "It doesn't really matter who's out there, we're going to run this game plan and we're all going to prepare as we're No. 1s and we're the starters and be ready for our moments."
In an interview with KTCK The Ticket in Dallas, Peter King had an interesting take on the impact of Bryant missing games.
"In this particular case, if you lose Dez Bryant, I think it's particularly hurtful. I think it'd be worse to lose Jason Witten, just because I think the quarterback's best friend in this offense is gonna be his tight end, but losing Dez Bryant would really hurt them because obviously, he's the one guy who gets downfield consistently and can scare a secondary. But, you know, I think that they've proven in the past that the loss of Dez is very hurtful, but they've also proven in the past that they can play acceptably on offense without him. I would assume that he's probably gonna miss a little bit of time, but I would also assume that Dak Prescott is the kind of guy who's not gonna fold because that happened."
This is just a fun read that helps illustrate King's point, plus a blueprint for one way the Cowboys can overcome any missed games by Bryant.
Practice report is out. pic.twitter.com/q2DfQaNwtn— David Helman (@HelmanDC) September 28, 2016
Meanwhile, there is other news out there.
The fourth round pick will likely not play a down his rookie year.
The Cowboys signed offensive tackle Emmett Cleary to their roster, using the space opened up by placing Tapper on IR. With the La'el Collins injury, along with the uncertainty around Tyron Smith's back, Dallas decided bringing in another offensive lineman was the smart move.
Welcome to 2016.
All NFL teams like to score quickly, and the Cowboys are no exception. This year, they are succeeding - perhaps better than you realize.
The Cowboys have scored on their first possession in each of the first three games. They drove the ball 70 yards on 15 plays in the season opener against the New York Giants and kicked a field goal. They took the ball 76 yards on 13 plays against the Washington Redskins and kicked a field goal. They took the ball 75 yards on 10 plays against the Chicago Bears and scored a touchdown.
The Cowboys have scored 23 points in the first quarter. They haven't allowed a first-quarter point either. Last year they scored just 51 in the first quarter for the season and gave up 66.
The Cowboys have scored on 10 of their 13 first-half possessions (six field goals, four touchdowns) and two of those possessions were end-of-half situations.
It's also time to start looking forward to the next opponent.
The 49ers really only have one reliable offensive weapon, RB Carlos Hyde. But he is a good one.
This will be the best running back the Cowboys have faced to this point in the season.
Hyde plays sideways in this scheme, but he does a nice job of getting downhill with the ball in his hands - and he runs with a nasty-type attitude. He looks to hammer tackles, and he will deliver punishment as he runs.
This is another look at some of the key players for SF. It is so much better to see the other team having real issues at quarterback.
QB Blaine Gabbert: A positive Week 1 has turned sour the last two weeks as Gabbert has dropped to near the bottom of the league in a number of primary passing categories. Kelly is sticking with Gabbert while waiting for Colin Kaepernick to regain the weight he lost while rehabilitating from various injury issues. At some point, a quarterback change is likely, especially if Gabbert isn't able to have a little more success against a Dallas defense that doesn't compare to what he's seen in Seattle and Carolina the last two weeks.
One advantage the Cowboys may have is three years going up against the current 49ers and former Eagles coach,
Shiva, the destroyer of franchises Chip Kelly.
Because of who's at the helm, the Niners will not look to throw deep often...particularly in a Chip Kelly offense that likes high-pace, West Coast short to intermediate throws. It's an offense the Cowboys know all too well from Kelly's days in Philadelphia, and they can use the familiarity to their advantage greatly.
Lance Dunbar has always been either underutilized or knocked out by injuries. Now, with the Bryant situation, he may have another chance to increase his contributions - and this may be the game the staff has targeted for him to do so.
Dunbar took only one snap less than Morris in Week 3, which appears to indicate the Cowboys are beginning to scheme him in more as he shakes off rust. He's returning from a torn ACL suffered at the beginning of 2015, and the team wisely managed his touches to this point to prevent a setback or new injury (see Orlando Scandrick for reference).