IRVING, Texas – Wednesday and Thursday feel like awfully big days for Dez Bryant's chances of returning to action this weekend.
That much was learned from Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones on Tuesday morning, but coach Jason Garrett affirmed his attitude about gradually bringing Bryant back from a six-week foot injury.
"We want players who are able to practice," Garrett said Tuesday afternoon. "We don't have any hard and fast rules. But for a guy who hasn't played as long as he's been out, we think it's important for him to get back out there."
Bryant hasn't played or practiced since Sept. 13, when he broke the fifth metatarsal in his right foot during Dallas' 27-26 win against New York. Last week he did some of his first on-field conditioning since the injury, but he has yet to partake in on-field activities.
"He's making progress, working on his own with Britt Brown our rehab guy and hopefully he continues to progress," Garrett said.
That's what makes these next two days so important if Bryant has a hope of suiting up Sunday against the Giants. Without a full practice in the last six weeks, the Cowboys need to make sure Bryant is fit to run and cut – as Jones alluded to earlier Tuesday morning.
The Cowboys have a full practice Wednesday morning, followed by another on Thursday. They'll practice again on Friday, but it will be anything but typical. The team is departing Dallas early on Friday for a scheduled visit to the Sept. 11 Memorial in New York – on top of that, there's a high likelihood they'll be coping with rainy conditions during practice.
At the same time, Garrett said he has no intention of rushing his star receiver back to practice if he isn't ready for it.
"We want to be deliberate with the process that we go through. And that's with every player that is hurt," he said. "We want to make sure our players are capable of playing. We will never put them in a compromising position in practice or in a game."
Garrett added that Bryant currently has medical clearance for his current level of activity – which would presumably include his on-field conditioning. It was just last week that he worked in uniform with resistance cords, as opposed to his previous rehab treatments.
The process encapsulates Garrett's familiar refrain of placing injured players in a "day by day" basis.
"We have different processes we will go through to get him there. And then day by day we will measure it and see if he is able to do what we asked him to do," he said. "To see if he is capable of doing more or see if we should dial it back. We will make our decision as we go."
Whether that means Bryant will practice on Wednesday, Garrett said he didn't know. But the wide out's availability this weekend is going to depend on his level of comfort and involvement in the coming days.[embeddedad0]
As has been the case throughout these past few weeks, it's essentially a waiting game – albeit one that may soon be over.
"We are not going to make any determination today as to whether or not Dez Bryant is going to play in this game," Garrett said. "We are going to see how he is doing. He has made a lot of progress in the last two weeks."