Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant was held out of practice Thursday as he is still being bothered by a back injury he suffered in the first half of last Sunday’s game at Washington.
It was a downgrade from Wednesday, when Bryant was limited in practice after aggravating the injury early on.
But the receiver said his sitting out on Thursday was more precautionary, and he guaranteed his presence in Sunday’s division title-deciding game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I’m good. I’m playing. Don’t worry about it,” Bryant said. “If I can put on some pads and roll, that’s good enough for me.”
Bryant acknowledged that he is worried about his continuing back troubles. He was sidelined in the 2012 season finale with a back injury, and he was hobbled earlier this season when his back locked up.
Bryant said this injury is not as serious as the one he had last season, when he couldn’t walk to the plane after the game.
“You know, as soon as the season is officially over, I’m going to get on it,” Bryant said. “I’m going to get into all of that.”
With quarterback Tony Romo likely sidelined with a back injury and backup Kyle Orton set to start in his place, there is no question the Cowboys will lean heavily on the running game in Sunday’s matchup against Philadelphia.
Running back DeMarco Murray, who is in the midst of the best stretch in what has already been the best season of his career, said he is ready and willing to carry a bigger load.
“If they do [run more], then great,” Murray said. “If they don’t, then so be it. I’m preparing like I do any other week.”
Murray has 1,073 yards in 13 games, becoming the first Cowboys back to top the 1,000-yard mark since 2006.
He has rushed for 376 yards the past three games combined, averaging a whopping 6.4 yards per carry during those contests.
“We’ve been really jelling together,” Murray said. “I think the offensive line — they’re doing a great job of blocking, and I’m doing a great job of running and making guys miss. … Since I’ve been here, this is the best [it’s been].”
When Jon Kitna came out of retirement earlier this week to help as the Cowboys’ third quarterback, he not only was helping the Cowboys in an emergency situation to prepare for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, but he also will be coming to the aid of the impoverished Lincoln High School athletic department in Tacoma, Wash.
It’s Kitna’s alma mater and it’s where he returned to teach after retiring from the NFL following the 2011 season. He will get roughly $54,000 in salary for work this week after signing with the Cowboys.
Dallas cut wide receiver/kick returner Micheal Spurlock to make room for Kitna, whose services are needed because Romo is unlikely to play Sunday because of a back injury and there was no other quarterback on the roster behind Orton.
Kitna said he is donating “whatever he gets” to his high school, where roughly “85 percent of the student population is below the poverty line.”
While it’s a noble act, it wasn’t a second thought for Kitna — who made numerous donations during a 15-year NFL career — because he was already donating his entire teacher’s salary to the booster program.
Kitna said the money will go toward feeding the athletes at his school and getting them on a good nutrition program.