IRVING, Texas– He was reluctant to set a definitive timetable, but Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Monday that Dez Bryant will be sidelined for several weeks with a broken metatarsal.
Bryant injured his foot late in Sunday night's win against New York and did not return to the action. He'll undergo surgery on the broken bone, but Garrett was cautious in his wording about when the Cowboys can expect their All-Pro receiver to return.
"You evaluate it day by day," he said. "That is the plan, it's a four-to-six week injury for most guys, and we'll just see how it plays out."
Reports have varied about a realistic schedule for Bryant's return, ranging anywhere from four weeks to 12 weeks – which is probably the reasoning behind Garrett's careful diagnosis. At the very least, it's safe to say the Cowboys will have to make it work without No. 88 for the next several weeks.
"We certainly are going to miss him, but he's going to do what's necessary, have the surgery tomorrow, and be back before we know it," Garrett said.
In the meantime, the Cowboys find themselves short-handed at the wide receiver position. Garrett said they'll likely sign another receiver at some point this week – though he isn't yet sure if that signing will come from the Dallas practice squad or outside the team facility.
The Cowboys currently have two receivers on their practice squad in rookie Vince Mayle and two-year veteran Rodney Smith. If they opt not to promote one of them to the active roster, the Cowboys could also look to sign one of their training camp wide receivers, like A.J. Jenkins or Nick Harwell. Or they could look elsewhere across the league landscape.
As Garrett was sure to point out, though, the Cowboys would be hard pressed to truly replace a receiver of Bryant's caliber.
"You can't really replace Dez Bryant. There aren't Dez Bryants waiting out there on the street," he said. "He's a special guy, he's a unique guy, and we're going to miss him."
Garrett was sure to stress the ever-present mantra of "Next Man Up," as well. Dallas engineered its game-winning drive while Bryant was in the locker room and has no shortage of options of targets – as Tony Romo demonstrated.
"Everybody will compete for that spot. Again, we don't spend a lot of times focusing on who is the starter. Everybody just needs to be ready to play," Garrett said. "Everyone just needs to prepare themselves for their opportunity whenever their opportunity comes. I thought last night was a good example of a lot of different guys doing that."
One silver lining for the offense is that Bryant's absence isn't exactly a new development. He missed the entirety of the offseason program while he negotiated for a long-term contract extension, and he was held out of most of training camp with a hamstring injury. The added reps with Tony Romo should be a benefit for Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley and Devin Street as the Cowboys begin preparations for life without Dez.
"As it turned out, we can really benefit from that time," Garrett said. "I think the other guys grew in his absence, Terrance Williams was in more of a lead receiver role, some of the other guys got more reps than they would have gotten, Tony got a lot of time on task with those guys throughout the offseason program.
"So you want all your players here each and every day, but when it's not the case, you have to make the best of it and there will be some benefits from that time they spent together."