The Cowboys Passing Game Takes Another Sack As Dez Bryant’s MRI Reveals Patellar Tendonitis
By Matthew Postins
The numbers are staggering, even if you don’t know what they amount to – 374 targets, 239 receptions, 3,307 yards and 32 touchdowns.
Those are the combined numbers of the Top 4 receivers on the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 – Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Laurent Robinson and Miles Austin.
What else do they have in common? None of them are on the field for the Cowboys as of today.
The news that Dez Bryant is out indefinitely with what is being reported as patellar tendonitis in his knee is about the worst possible news if you’re a fan of the Cowboys passing game. This comes less than a week after the Cowboys lost both Witten and Austin to injuries. Worse, it makes the Cowboys’ decision to not pursue Robinson heartily this offseason look plain short-sighted.
Now, it’s certainly possible that one, two or all three could be back for the season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 5, but I wouldn’t bet money on it. In addition to the fact that all three of them are injured, they’re suffering from the type of injuries that could linger well into the season.
I was in Tampa Bay when Chris Simms suffered his ruptured spleen, and while his injury was much more serious than Witten’s, I can tell you from that experience that recovery from any spleen injury is unpredictable. If it isn’t handled right, Witten could be out much longer than a month.
We’ve now reached the point where you can set your watch by Austin’s hamstring injuries. Patella tendonitis is the definition of lingering injury.
So now, based on last year’s numbers, the leading returning pass-catcher on the team that’s still practicing is running back Felix Jones, who reported to camp out of shape. The top returning receiver is Kevin Ogletree, who caught 15 passes last year.
The third preseason game is traditionally the “dress rehearsal” game, the one in which the starters play the most and attempt to emulate what they’ll see in the regular season.
There will be no dress rehearsal on Saturday night. Instead it will be open auditions.
The likely starters, based on experience and preseason performance, will be Ogletree and SMU product Cole Beasley. Beasley proved against San Diego that he can beat second- and third-string defensive backs while projectile vomiting. Something tells me he gets a chance to show what he can do against first-teamers Saturday night when the Cowboys face the Rams.
There’s also Tim Benford, Danny Coale, Saalim Hakim, Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes, Donavon Kemp, David Little and Raymond Radway.
In other words, a get well card addressed to Austin, Bryant and Witten wouldn’t be out of line right about now.