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Bryant To Injured Reserve

It was a tough site to watch. Cowboys nation closed their eyes and held their breath a little when they saw the most electrifying player of this season lay on the field. Through this roller-coaster of a season that is filled with more lows than highs, at least until recently, there was always this great upside that we saw out of the Cowboys first round draft pick of 2010.

Dez Bryant had really started to turn some heads. It started on special teams when he returned his first punt for a touchdown sending Cowboys fans into visions of 88 carrying this club for years to come. It only grew in momentum when Bryant started performing well in the offense and becoming the monster receiver Jones and Phillips thought he would be when they drafted him.

But on Sunday, in Indianapolis, you could hear the last bit of excitement for this lost season escape some hearts as Bryant was carried off by the coaches unable to put weight on his right ankle that would later turn out to be fractured. Sure, we still have Garrett auditioning for the job of head coach next season, we have Romo hopefully coming back at some point in this wasted season, we have fellow rookie Sean Lee showing his great potential, and most fulfilling (a little sarcasm) is we have the best punter in the league putting together another Pro Bowl campaign, but none of this really sells the tickets like the electrifying persona carrying on the mantle of the 88 jersey in Dallas, the number worn by greats Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin.

Bryant will be out for 3-4 months and was put on injured reserve which effectively ends this season and puts his development on hold. While we all thought that Bryant might have been the best player on the team this season, he still has some developing to do, not uncommon for rookies even if they are stars. In fact, Jason Garrett had a laundry list of things that Bryant can improve on and he shared them yesterday during his press conference:

“There are so many things,” Garrett said. “He has to improve as a route runner. He has to improve on the individual technique he uses. Running routes, beating defenders versus press coverage, versus off coverage, so many different things. Add more routes to his repertoire. Be good at running a whole series of different kinds of routes and be effective. But again, that’s experience. That’s more and more practice, more and more game experience. Again, he goes about it the right way.”

Practice and experience that will be put on hold until at least March when Bryant can resume practicing. But, while Bryant will lose experience and time, he sure has made an impact on this club and on the entire NFL. Bryant was often compared to fellow first round pick from a year earlier WR Michael Crabtree. While Crabtree has been a boost for the 49ers, Bryant has already put up more impressive numbers in half a year than Crabtree has in a full year (Crabtree missed most of last year due to a contract dispute).

While having a good quarterback has a lot to do with it, Bryant also seems to be a special player. Garret agrees, “He’s certainly made great strides in his rookie year. For a guy who’s missed as much training camp as he did, to make the impact that he’s made on our football team has been significant. He’ll learn from those experiences and hopefully he’ll continue to learn this year when he’s out.”

While this season hasn’t gone the way the Cowboys and their fans hoped it would, we did have Bryant to look forward to watching. Now, well now we get to watch and see which “star” will step up and shine. RB Tashard Choice has already lobbied for that role, maybe WR’s Kevin Ogletree or Sam Hurd will throw their name in the mix. Perhaps, Sean Lee will continue to dazzle. One thing is certain, in Dallas, a star always shines.

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