Dez Bryant returned to the practice field on Saturday following a two-week absence, and could soon be in the mix to return punts for the Dallas Cowboys.
Head coach Jason Garrett told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Saturday that his team is yet to finalize its kick and punt returners, but added that Bryant’s recent knee injury did not preclude him consideration for punt return duty.
“If he’s the best guy, and he’s healthy, we’ll give him a chance to do it,” Garrett said as 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.
Saturday marked his first return to 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.
Team owner Jerry Jones publicly wavered in the offseason about the use of Bryant on special teams, questioning whether it was worth the added risk to one his team’s top playmakers.