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September 01, 2012

Bryant's knee tendinitis hasn't changed Cowboys' plans for him on punt returns, as long as he's healthy

Jason Garrett said the Cowboys have not settled on their kickoff and punt returners yet, and that Dez Bryant’s knee injury has not affected their thinking about him returning punts.

“If he’s the best guy, and he’s healthy, we’ll give him a chance to do it,” Garrett said Saturday at Valley Ranch, where the Cowboys started their practice week for Wednesday’s season opener against the New York Giants. “Those guys have to be reliable, first and foremost, in taking care of the ball. And then you obviously want to evaluate their playmaking ability after that. Dez has shown that he’s capable of doing both, and if he’s healthy, we’ll give him a chance to do it.”

Bryant was found to have patellar tendinitis after an MRI exam in San Diego two weeks ago, when he came off the practice field with a knee injury.

The Cowboys kept him out of action after that until Saturday’s practice.

Garrett said Bryant has learned to “manage his energy better” and understand what kind of physical condition he needs to be in.

“He’s more consistent with how he approaches practice, and that’s carried over to the competitive situations that we’ve been in,” Garrett said.

Bryant has been injured the past two years on returns. He broke his right fibula on a kickoff return Dec. 5, 2010, against the Colts, forcing him on IR to finish his rookie season. Last year in the season opener against the Jets, Bryant suffered a thigh contusion on a punt return.  He missed the Week 2 game against the 49ers and has since said the injury slowed him all season.

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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