Dez Bryant declared himself ready to play Sunday in Green Bay, but the Dallas Cowboys weren’t going to rush their star receiver back.
So Bryant, dealing with a hairline fracture in his right knee, watched from the sidelines for a third straight week. He’ll be back, though, when the Cowboys play again on Oct. 30 against Philadelphia after their bye.
“We’ll be ready to roll,” Bryant said. “I already knew there was a big chance that I probably wasn’t going to play. For the record, it wasn’t my decision cause I was ready to roll.”
Bryant brushed off a question whether his knee has fully healed.
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“You see me running and cutting today [in pregame workouts]?” Bryant said, smiling. “Trust me, I wanted to [play] but I understood what it was. I understood what they were telling me. It’s just the competitor in me. I wanted to be out there with my teammates.”
In the meantime, Bryant has served as one of the most vocal supporters on the sidelines. He loves what he’s seen from rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, as well as what his fellow receivers have done in his absence.
Bryant praised Brice Butler’s performance on Sunday, particularly a 20-yard TD grab he hauled in, and had nothing but good things to say about Cole Beasley, who scored two TDs.
“Let me tell you this – nobody can guard Cole Beasley one-on-one. Nobody,” Bryant said.
The only topic Bryant shied away from discussing was the pending quarterback decision with Prescott and Tony Romo.
“All I know is we’re still going to be damn good,” Bryant said. “I wish I could speak more on it, but that’s out of my pay grade.”
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Cornerback Morris Claiborne sustained a concussion in the second quarter, colliding with Sean Lee on a pass breakup.
Claiborne said afterward that he felt better and expected to be ready to play after the Cowboys’ bye week.
“I feel good right now,” Claiborne said. “Honestly, walking off the field I had a headache but it’s eased up. My balance and everything is good. Nothing has bothered me, so I feel good.”
Claiborne smiled when asked what he remembered about the play.
“Breaking the pass up,” he said.
Lee felt terrible about hitting Claiborne on a split-second play, saying he views him like “a brother.”
“You feel bad any time you see one of your friends, a guy I consider a brother, hurt like that,” Lee said. “You are praying he is OK. You want to hit hard, but you never want to see anyone injured.”
Losing Claiborne early in the game was a blow to an already depleted secondary. Orlando Scandrick was sidelined again as he deals with issues in each of his hamstrings.
That forced the Cowboys to move safety Byron Jones to nickel cornerback with rookie Anthony Brown taking over for Claiborne. Reserve safety Jeff Heath filled in for Jones.
Claiborne couldn’t have been happier than the way the defense stepped up in his absence. He has been one of the surprise players of the season, but the defense still held the Packers’ offense in check all day.
“They performed. They stepped up,” Claiborne said. “We didn’t even have enough DBs on the bench. Jeff Heath coming down and playing receivers … take your hat off to the secondary. We’ve got guys who are committed to this team and when their number is called, they step up to the plate.”
Church is OK
Safety Barry Church had a standout game with a forced fumble and an interception. But he also missed time with a couple injuries.
Church said he exited early in the game after being “a little dazed” as a precaution, but passed concussion protocol. Then he had to leave briefly after he lost a contact.
But all was well afterward even if the defense may be a tad overlooked in the Cowboys’ 5-1 start.
“As long as we keep getting these Ws and keep getting the ball back for our offense, I’m happy,” Church said.