A source close to Dez Bryant said the first-round pick is shooting to return for the Sept. 2 game against the Miami Dolphins. Not only does Bryant want to get on the field before the regular season starts, but he would like to show Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland something. Ireland was forced to apologize to Bryant after it became public knowledge that he had asked Bryant during a pre-draft interview whether Bryant's mother was a prostitute.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Saturday that, in the best-case scenario, Bryant will miss only four weeks with a high-ankle sprain. He could miss the entire preseason. Bryant was injured when Orlando Scandrick fell on him while Bryant was trying to catch a pass thrown behind him late in Friday's practice.
"He's young. He's strong," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "It just depends on how fast he heals. Some guys heal faster than other guys. It's going to be two weeks, and I think we'll know a lot more. The first two weeks are the healing process. You stabilize it, and it starts to heal back. Then, we'll start to see where it is then."
Bryant had been the star of their training camp, catching almost everything throw his way, including some circus catches. But they would have liked to have seen him play in the five preseason games just to get some game time under his belt.
"It stops his progress a little bit," Phillips said. "It is good that we had him and he got to work into the offense. He didn't have much problem as far as knowing what to do. A few little detail things that he needed to adjust to, but he ran the routes well. He has a good concept of what we're trying to do. I think Tony has confidence in him. When Tony saw him one-on-one, he got him the football. He knows and is comfortable in that area.
"Even though he's a young guy, he's such a good player that you wouldn't play him a whole lot in preseason. You'd like to play him some more than we're going to get to. He has natural running ability, so I don't think that's going to be hurt any like kick returns and run after the catch."
Bryant has not played a game since Sept. 19 against Rice. He was suspended for lying to NCAA investigators and played in only three games last season at Oklahoma State.
"It is very important [to play in the preseason]," receivers coach Ray Sherman said. "First of all, you get the butterflies out, because you get the chance to go against other competition, different teams and get in that work. Then, when you go into the season, you'll have the butterflies, but at least you've gone against different teams to get yourself ready. If you miss all of the preseason, it's going to be a little different because the nerves will be 100 miles an hour in the first regular-season game. In the preseason, you have a chance to see what it's going to see what it's going to be like. When you hit the regular season, then that level goes up a couple of notches. So things are going to happen a lot quicker. Those are the things that he's going to have to be ready for and be able to adjust to."
The Cowboys start the regular season Sept. 12, 43 days from today.
-- Charean Williams