A few days after saying there was a good chance rookie receiver Dez Bryant could return for the final two preseason games, owner Jerry Jones is now taking a more guarded and cautious outlook.
Jones said it's a possibility Bryant might not play at all in the preseason to ensure he is healthy and ready to go for the Sept. 12 season opener against the Redskins.
Bryant has been out since the first week of training camp with a high ankle sprain, which was supposed to sideline him four to six weeks. His rehab has gone well. He has shed the walking boot and is now doing light running.
Bryant, who missed much of last season at Oklahoma State because he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, wants to play in the fourth preseason game against the Houston Texans on Aug. 28. And he certainly believes he will be ready for the preseason game against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 1.
He says he needs the work and wants to get re-acclimated with his teammates. Jones wants that as well. But he said he doesn't know if it's worth the risk.
"We have got to watch getting too overanxious with him," Jones said. "But yet we know it would be helpful to him to get him work and get him in a couple of these preseason games. It's going to be a decision that is additive to a medical decision, no matter how we look at it."
Jones said if it was a veteran, there would be no question about him sitting out. Because he is a rookie there is some interest in getting him a game or two. But he said the experience with tight end Martellus Bennett re-tweaking his sprained ankle, forcing him to miss another preseason game, has them cautious.
"It's the rookie factor. You'd like to see him get in," Jones said. "He's obviously dying to get in, but that's the decision right there. How smart is this?"
It doesn't help Bryant's case that he was caught fielding punts on Sunday _ against the wishes of the trainers. He has been cleared to run straight ahead. He has not been cleared to do any cutting.
So a reluctant Bryant will now do as he has been told.
"As of right now, I can't do as much," Bryant said. "They are real sensitive as far as my ankle. They don't want me to mess it up. (Jones) doesn't want me doing it. Whatever he says goes."
Still Bryant doesn't deny he's is ready to get back on the field and wants to do so before the season opener.
"I just think it'd be best for me to go out there to get some work in," Bryant said. "I just feel like I need the feel of the game."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.