IRVING, Texas – In case
Bryant said the only way he would’ve undergone immediate, season-ending surgery is if doctors told him that was the only choice.
“It’s the position that we’re in that makes me want to be out there,” Bryant said. “If it was anything less than what we have a chance of, I would have went ahead and got surgery.”
With three games left in the regular season and the playoffs still a possibility, Bryant didn’t want to let his teammates down.
He didn’t indicate how much pain he was in after practice as he sat with his fractured left index finger taped up Friday. Bryant said he’s not sure if he’ll get any sort of shot in his finger before the game, but he doesn't think he'll need it.
Bryant said the swelling’s down, and he’s no longer concerned about how his finger will affect him catching passes, blocking, or, as he was most worried about when the injury first occurred, his ball possession. Bryant tends to palm the football when he runs, and the left-handed receiver would sometimes place the ball in his dominant hand.
“I already went through all these motions already,” Bryant said, “high and tight. I’ve been through all these motions. I’m good.”
The star receiver’s in the midst of his greatest stretch as an NFL player, compiling 33 catches for 525 yards and seven touchdowns in his last five games. All nine of his touchdowns this season have come in the second half of games.
One of those touchdowns occurred against the Bengals last weekend after he already fractured his finger.
“To be honest, I didn’t even think about my finger,” Bryant said. “I just was trying to get out there and make a play. I knew it was a real crucial part of the game. I couldn’t let that bother me. I couldn’t think about it at that moment.”
His adrenaline from the win kicked in enough that he didn’t really feel the pain of the injury until the next day.
“I was still hyped about the game all the way home,” he said.
The finger injury doesn’t compare to the most painful injury he’s ever played through, which occurred at Oklahoma State as a sophomore. Bryant said he had a stretched ligament in his knee and played until he couldn’t stand on it any longer in the fourth quarter.
He didn’t even want to call the fractured finger a setback in his stellar season. Bryant was thrilled when he found out immediate surgery shouldn’t be necessary.
“Before I found out, the feeling that I had, I was kind of down or whatever,” Bryant said. “But now, I’m back to me.”
Bryant wouldn’t say how his finger will be protected during Sunday’s game, but he mentioned that it wouldn’t have the same light tape job he donned on his finger Friday afternoon. While the protection on his finger might be a mystery, his presence in Sunday’s game against the Steelers doesn’t seem to be.
“If you catch me going onto the field, look at it and see how it’s going to be,” Bryant said.
Bryant touched on a number of subjects during one of his rare full-length interviews. Here’s more of his comments from Friday:
What’d you want to see most before you decided to play?
Dez: “How much pain. But I’m going to leave it at that.”
It happened against Pacman Jones on the slant?
Dez: “I want to say he grabbed my finger. Really I’m not for sure, but I’m thinking that’s how it happened. My hand never touched the ground, and my hand didn’t hit his helmet.”
How was going against Pacman?
Dez: “Me and Pacman, we’re cool. It was fun. It was fun going against him. There was friendly talking. It wasn’t nothing real feisty. It was more smiling and talking.”
Are you worried about guys going after your finger?
Dez: “No. Not at all.”
You expect it?
Dez: “No. I feel like if you’re going after something, you better make sure you get it, because that can cost you.”
Can you talk about the emotional scene in the locker room after everything that’s happened?
Dez: “Jerry (Brown), he’s going to always be in our heart. He’ll just boost momentum and confidence into our play, into our game play. We’re just going to always keep him in our hearts and go out and play.”
What would the doctors have had to say for you to get the surgery done now?
Dez: “You just can’t do it. You can’t go out there.”
Did the fact that there’s only three games left help your decision?
Dez: “Nope. None of those thoughts. It was just all about, hey, I feel like I need to be out there. I want to be a part of the team, and I’m going to go through everything I possibly can to see if I’m OK to go out there and play, and I feel like, you know, I’m good.”
How do you block it out on Sunday?
Dez: “You can’t think about it. I’m telling you, it’s a mental thing…If you start believing you can’t do it, you can’t do it. If you believe you can do it, you can do it.”