One day after revealing that he has been battling tendinitis since early November as part of an explanation for his disappointing production in 2017, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was absent from the media portion of practice Thursday, three days before Sunday's final game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Coach Jason Garrett acknowledged that Bryant has been dealing with things, just as all players this time of year. But he has not been on the injury report and has been able to play through the tendinitis.
“Oh, I think Dez has probably dealt with a few different things physically over the course of the year,” Garrett said. “That’s natural for players in this league, he’s dealt with stuff in the past. Physically, he’s done a good job fighting through stuff. He’s a pretty consistent practice player for us really throughout the year.”
Garrett also addressed Bryant's comments on Thursday regarding him being held back by the scheme as well as a lack of mental focus that has caused him to be distracted during games, resulting in team-leading 10 dropped passes.
The production and execution have been lacking for a variety of reasons.
“At times, he’s played really well,” Garrett said. “Certainly, he’s a mismatch player who’s made a number of plays for us and at other times we haven’t been as good at throwing the football. We’ll continue to work on that in all phases of it. He’s certainly a part of it, both the good and some of the stuff that hasn’t been quite as good. We’ll keep looking that and see how we can do it better.”
Regarding the mental focus issues, Garrett said that's always been a challenge for players as competitive as Bryant.
“That’s something with all players,” Garrett said. “They’re greatest strengths are their passion and their love for the game. For Dez, that’s certainly line one. He loves to play, he loves to practice and sometimes when you have such passion, sometimes there can be frustration that accompanies that when things don’t go exactly the way you want to.
“The biggest thing you try to do as a coaching staff is you try to channel all of that really good stuff and hopefully it shows up in his execution of doing things, and that’s something you have to deal with all the time with players. Again, you want that passion, you want that emotion, you just want to make sure it’s channeled the right way and it shows up in their play.”