IRVING, Texas -I'm sure there are a lot of Cowboys fans hoping Dez Bryant will be able to play on Sunday despite missing practice all week with a thigh contusion, but if I were Jason Garrett, I would have a hard time activating him against the 49ers.
Since he was drafted, Bryant has had one nagging, minor injury after another. It's always been something for him physically, but other than the high ankle sprain last year in training camp, or the fractured fibula which eventually ended his season, nothing ever kept him out of a game. But I don't recall Bryant sitting out an entire week of practice and playing, either.
The Cowboys can set a very bad precedent with Bryant if they let him play Sunday after he didn't practice at all the last three days. If his thigh contusion is bad enough to keep him off the field at Valley Ranch, it should be bad enough to keep him out against San Francisco, too.
Bryant is not some veteran like Bradie James or Keith Brooking or Miles Austin, who has proven he will fight through every injury and do what it takes to be at his best, a guy who can learn everything he needs to know in the classroom and simply transfer it over to the field.
Still in just his second season, and a neophyte in Jason Garrett's offense, Bryant can't be trusted to do the same.
As Jerry Jones said Thursday, Bryant's physical skills are great enough that he can make a game-winning play despite missing practice reps. But all his speed and burst could also only mean he'll get to the wrong place even faster if he doesn't know where to go. He could easily be a detriment to the offense if he's blowing his assignments, and any mental mistakes by a player who isn't as well prepared as he should be puts the rest of the offense at risk.
At the same time, Bryant needs every rep possible to maximize his unreal potential. If the Cowboys show him he can get away with missing practices because he's sore, he'll continue to miss them, which will only delay his maturation process, and maybe keep him from ever being at his best.
Whether or not the receiver is feeling good on Sunday is irrelevant, really.
It's in the Cowboys' best interest, both short-term and long-term, for Garrett to put his foot down this week and inactivate Bryant.