By all accounts, Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant will be healthy and ready to go for the start of the regular season after an injury-plagued 2015 season.
But will he be ready for the start of the off-season program?
The latter is the most important thing for Bryant, per owner Jerry Jones, who believes the receiver’s problems started well before he suffered a fractured foot in the season opener.
He believes the extended contract stalemate, which caused Bryant to miss the entire off-season was the tipping point to his injury troubles in training camp and then the regular season.
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“Last year’s a great example of having bad off-season preparation,” Jones said. “Did he get hurt because he might have still have had lingering aspects to his injury that he did have, that he got later in the year?”
Bryant followed an absent off-season by missing the majority of training camp and the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. That was before initially injuring his foot in the season opener, fracturing the fifth metatarsal in his right foot, commonly known as a Jones fracture. He missed the next five games, and had a bone graft inserted to help the healing process. Bryant also had a stem cell injection in October to enhance the healing.
Bryant returned in Week 8 against Seattle, catching two passes for 12 yards. He injured his right ankle and left knee the following week against Philadelphia on a touchdown catch.
Bryant played with both injuries the next six games before being shut down for the season.
Bryant, who signed a five-year, $70 million extension in July, finished the year with 31 catches for 401 yards with three touchdowns in nine games in what was the lowest production of his career.
He had a second bone graft on his right foot and had a bone spur removed from his ankle after the season in early January.
The Cowboys recently got a “great report” on Bryant’s progress and rehab and expect him to be ready for organized team activities in May.
“Let me be real clear here, last year showed us that if you have compromised off-season work then take that into some kind of compromised training camp, you will not have a good year when the season gets here,” Jones said. “You need to get yourself ready to go so when the off-season starts this year, you’re ready to win the off-season award man of the year. As a player you’ll pay the price and you’re team will pay the price with injury as you get into the season (if you don’t).”