OAKLAND - Dez Bryant's participation in Monday's preseason opener came as a surprise after the star receiver left Saturday's practice late with a sore hamstring.
Bryant, who was a game-time decision after going through Sunday's walkthrough pain-free, went out with the first team and caught a 24-yard fade from Tony Romo on the Cowboys' first possession.
Receiver coach Jimmy Robinson said Bryant was evaluated and didn't receive special treatment when determining his status.
"He's a young player that needs to play whenever he can play," Robinson said. "He felt pretty good. It wasn't bothering him. It didn't feel like it was tight. I tried to encourage him to let us know how it felt, and if it was tight at all we would err on the side of caution. But he felt good, so he got a few snaps."
The one catch was Bryant's only target and one of six passes thrown by Romo on the day. Miles Austin was already ruled out with a tight hamstring, which would have forced Romo to play without his top two receivers if Bryant sat out.
"He's like any young player," said Robinson, who coached in Green Bay and won a Super Bowl ring in 2010. "He's not Donald Driver that's been playing 15 years."
Despite Bryant's catch, which took the Cowboys to the Raiders' 39-yard line, Dallas was forced to punt after a false start penalty and an incomplete pass. It was the first of four straight punts and an interception on the Cowboys' first five possessions.
Romo completed just three passes, including two to Jason Witten, for 30 yards before being replaced by Kyle Orton halfway through the second quarter.
"We'll get more playing time next week, and hopefully do a better job," Witten said.
But Bryant's catch was undoubtedly the highlight of the night for the first-team offense.
When healthy, that's what the Cowboys are expecting from their third-year pro. But staying healthy hasn't always been the easiest part for Bryant, who missed four games his rookie season with a broken leg. He missed one game and parts of three others with a deep thigh bruise last season.