Bryant Still An Option In Return Game Despite Knee Injury

IRVING, Texas - Dez Bryant's patellar tendinitis may not hurt his chances of returning punts this season.

Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett hasn't settled on his returners, but said Saturday if Bryant is healthy, the knee injury from almost two weeks back won't affect the Cowboys' ultimate decision at the position.  

"Those are important plays, and if he's the best guy and he's healthy, we'll give him a chance to do it," Garrett said.  "You need a lot of different returning options for obvious reasons. It's a really important play. It involves the football.

"Those guys have to be reliable first and foremost in taking care of the ball, and then you obviously want to evaluate their play-making 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."

Dwayne Harris returned punts at the beginning of Saturday's practice, while Bryant ran routes with the receivers.

"It's just wait and see," Harris said of any return competition. "I'll do punt return tomorrow and kick return tomorrow."

Garrett said he has a sense Bryant is ready to take the next step as an NFL athlete after entering the offseason more determined and with a better understanding of the shape he needs to be in.

Bryant missed the Cowboys' dress rehearsal against the Rams after hurting his knee in practice earlier in the week against the Chargers.

"He did miss some time in training camp, obviously, with the injury, but he's just going about it the right way," Garrett said. "He's more consistent with how he approaches practice, and that's carried to the competitive situations that we've been in."

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