IRVING, Texas (AP) — Dez Bryant’s injury-plagued season is ending early, and the Dallas receiver faces the likelihood of more surgery on the right foot he broke in the opener.
Coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday that Bryant was still having issues with the foot and his left ankle, and that the Cowboys “anticipate him having something done to both the foot and the ankle here in the next week or so.”
Bryant will miss the finale against Washington on Sunday with the Cowboys (4-11) eliminated from the playoffs and the Redskins (8-7) already in as NFC East champions.
The 2014 All-Pro missed five games after getting hurt in the second half of the opener against the New York Giants. He played in eight straight games while also dealing with soreness in his left knee before sitting last week against Buffalo after Dallas’ playoff hopes had ended.
But Garrett wouldn’t say the decision with Bryant had anything to do with the Cowboys’ final two games being meaningless in the standings for both teams.
“We try to make the determinations on the health of our players independent of where we are, who we’re playing, what our record is and what the opposing team’s record is,” Garrett said. “Dez did everything he could to come back and play as quickly as he could. We tried to do the right things as an organization by him like we would with any player.”
Bryant had surgery almost immediately after getting hurt, and the Cowboys were told there was a chance he would need another one, the same way Atlanta’s Julio Jones did after breaking the same bone in 2013.
About a month later, Bryant underwent another procedure to try to speed the healing process.
“He came back pretty quick, probably sooner than he should have,” receiver Cole Beasley said. “But that’s the type of guy he is. He wants to be back and he wants to help the team win and do whatever is necessary. You admire the guy just for that.”
Bryant, who wasn’t in the locker room when it was open to reporters Wednesday, finished with career lows across the board — catches (31), yards (401), touchdowns (three) and games (nine). Last season, he led the NFL with 16 touchdowns.
The broken foot came after Bryant missed the entire offseason in a contract dispute. After signing a five-year, $70 million deal, he missed a significant portion of training camp with a hamstring issue.
“Missing the offseason and having a number of different injuries, he didn’t get the best opportunity to prepare and play like he normally does,” Garrett said. “And I think that hurt him and ultimately hurt our football team.”
Quarterback Tony Romo broke his left collarbone a week after Bryant went down. After missing seven games, Romo broke the same collarbone in his second game back. Romo and Bryant played just one full game together — a win at Miami.
Bryant’s return in Week 8 against Seattle came after the Cowboys had lost their first four games without Romo. Dallas was trying to stay in the NFC East race a year after winning it, in a season that started with Super Bowl aspirations.
Still, Garrett said he doesn’t think the Cowboys rushed their star receiver back.
“I think everybody tries to push to come back, come back to practice and come back to play,” Garrett said. “It goes back to mental toughness and physical toughness and competitive spirit and Dez has those things in spades. It’s an inexact science. You trust the people that are the most expert, you trust the player and you trust your eyes as you watch him function. You put those things together and make your best decision.”
Bryant will be placed on injured reserve along with safety Barry Church and defensive end David Irving. Church broke his right arm and Irving fractured his left wrist against the Bills last weekend.