IRVING, Texas – Few people would be able to empathize with Dez Bryant as well as Julio Jones – after all, Jones has dealt with foot injuries twice in his pro career.
The Falcons' star receiver broke his foot during the buildup to the 2011 NFL Draft, and it didn't stop him from being selected in the top 10 by Atlanta. He re-aggravated the injury in 2013, however, and it was enough to shut down his season in early October.
"Just not being able to be out there for your teammates. I feel like I was letting them down, you know, not being out there making plays and working with those guys," Jones said of the injury. "The whole offseason, just working with them, training camp, OTAs, everything, just building that brotherhood. And you're on the sidelines just looking and you can't do anything."
That's why, asked about Bryant's own broken foot, Jones advised caution in bringing the All-Pro receiver back to the field.
"With Dez, he's just going to have to take time and get healed up properly because you can rush these things because of the competitor that he is, you don't want to rush it and then it sets you back," Jones said.
Bryant broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot in the fourth quarter of their Week 1 win against New York. He had surgery to stabilize the injury with a screw and a bone graft. Reports about his timetable return have varied widely, but the Cowboys felt confident enough about the situation to refrain from placing him on short-term injured reserve.
Jones didn't know if a 6-to-8 week timetable was realistic for Bryant, but he said his recovery from the second injury, in 2013, was a lengthy one.
"I'm not a doctor. I don't know how he's going to bounce back from it," he said. "For me, speaking for myself, I was probably on bed rest with no weight-bearing for probably two months. That's before I was even able to go out and run or anything."
The Cowboys have been careful not to assign a specific timeline to Dez's return, but all eyes will be on the recovery process – especially in the coming weeks, as Bryant nears the projected return.
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