Cowboys' Dez Bryant shouts 'of course' he'll play against Steelers

IRVING -- Dez Bryant wasn't talking to reporters, but he was talking to reporters.

He smiled.

He shouted.

He joked.

His body language gave off every impression of a player who is playing on Sunday, not one who has to sit out the rest of the season because of a broken finger.

"Of course!" he shouted on his way out of the locker room as reporters asked him if he would play Sunday against Pittsburgh.

His work at practice on Thursday seemed to back him up.

Asked on the way out of the locker room if he had taken reps in practice, Bryant said, "I took quite a few. Quite a few."

Bryant wore a glove with padding on the left index finger. Quarterback Tony Romo said he didn't throw him any hard passes. Bryant said the finger felt good.

It encouraged his teammates.

"He caught it pretty good. He caught it good," cornerback Brandon Carr said.

Thursday was only one day in a week of scrutinizing the injury for the Cowboys. They know Bryant will accept the responsibility of playing with the injury, and that they can fashion some kind of protection for the finger.

But they don't know yet the risk of further injury to the finger or how well he can catch the ball.

That is what they will watch as long as they can.

"A lot of it isn't just pain. A lot of it is, can you function to an ability to help a football team? More than a guy who would come in behind you?" Romo said. "So that's part of the thought process as well. As you look at it, as the week goes on, you have to determine that on top of everything else. It's not just, 'I can walk, I can move.' It's, 'Can you play at a level that helps?'

"We'll be able to determine that by the end of the week, hopefully, or by game time."

Bryant missed practice on Wednesday, when he got a second opinion on the fracture.

Coach Jason Garrett said the second opinion was "pretty similar" to the first one.

Romo said, for now, the Cowboys have to be mindful of the kind of passes they throw to Bryant, if they throw to him. If he plays Sunday, he'll have to catch hard-thrown balls.

Of course, the Cowboys have already seen Bryant do that. He caught two passes after the injury, including a laser-like 27-yard touchdown pass.

"Well, he's got phenomenal hands," Romo said. "There are different ways to catch a ball, and he can probably tell you better than anybody how to catch footballs. So, I trust him. He's going to put himself in that position, and I know he's going to find a way to play at a certain level. ... But he's smart. He's a good player, and he's a great player that helps us. If he can be out there, it's going to be a big deal."

Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said the Cowboys don't have separate game plans for Bryant playing and not playing.

Receiver Kevin Ogletree said the Cowboys' receiver depth is just fine, with or without Bryant.

"Dez hasn't gone anywhere," he said. "Dez is right here. He's at practice today. Our depth hasn't changed, really. But yeah, I think we have a really deep group from top to bottom. It's fun going out there and playing with these guys and competing with them on Sunday. As a group we've stayed pretty much healthy for a while, and we haven't had any losses and we still haven't had any losses, because Dez is right here with us."

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @calexmendez

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