Dallas Cowboys

Why Allen Hurns never doubted return from gruesome injury that still makes him cringe

Hometown boy Connor Williams can’t believe he’s a Cowboy

University of Texas lineman Connor Williams was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night at AT&T Stadium.
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University of Texas lineman Connor Williams was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys on Friday night at AT&T Stadium.

Wide receiver Allen Hurns is back playing football again and that’s all the matters.

Whether he will be with the Cowboys for the start of the season has yet to be decided.

He has a $6.2 million cap figure that will likely get sliced if he makes it that far.

But that’s the least of Hurns’ worries and concerns after what he’s been through.

The thought of him laying on the field with his leg facing one way and his foot and ankle facing the other in the Cowboys’ wild-card victory against the Seattle Seahawks last January still makes his him cringe.

“Yeah, it’s crazy,” said a smiling Hurns. “I still get like cringey thinking about it. What was surprising was going through that, it wasn’t like the worst pain of my life. I was more so like freaked out with my ankle facing another way. It was crazy for sure. I had to stay off social media, everybody tagging me and things like that, showing me the videos. Yeah, I try not to watch it.”

Hurns finally re-lived the gruesome injury publicly for the first time on Tuesday, the first day of Cowboys minicamp when he was cleared to at least go through individual drills for the first time with plans of being fully cleared for training camp at the end of July.

Everyone saw head coach Jason Garrett holding his hand and the tears streaming down his face as he raised his first, wondering if he would ever play again.

But there was never any doubt in Hurns’ mind once he experienced the pain of the medics popping his ankle back in place on the field before taking him to the ambulance.

“It was in the ambulance when they told me everything was going to be fine,” said Hurns when asked when he felt he was coming back to play.

Scars remain from where the bones broke the skin on one side and from the surgery to place a plate and screws in it for support.

“I was in a cast for a couple of weeks,” Hurns said. “Then I was in a boot. I wasn’t able to put weight on it for two months. It was tough getting around. For the first month, you have to be in the house the whole time.”

He received a lot of snacks and cupcakes, including a big basket from owner Jerry Jones. He spent a lot of time playing with puzzles and watching television with his family.

Once he started to lift and was cleared to jog again is when things got exciting again. He has made steady progress ever since, saying he is close to 90 percent, running routes and going full speed.

“I have a lot of faith in God,” Hurns said. “I knew I would make it back. It has been tough. But where I am at mentally helped me a lot. I didn’t let things bring me down.”

Having ever-positive receiver Tavon Austin as a rehab and workout partner helped. They pushed each other.

Being able to be with his teammates at minicamp, even if it’s just doing the individual drills, has whetted his appetite for training camp.

“It means a lot,” Hurns said. “That is one of the toughest things going through injuries, besides the pain, not being able to be out there and compete with your teammates. That is one of the toughest things. So it means a lot just being out there with them.”

Where he fits on the Cowboys roster remains to be seen. Randall Cobb has been added to play the third receiver behind Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Austin is also an option in the slot in addition to holdovers Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir and speedy youngsters Cedrick Wilson and Jon’vea Johnson.

Hurns has the experience to play all three receivers spots. But his contract remains an issue for someone who had just 20 catches for 295 yards and two touchdowns last season. His base salary is $4 million and he has per game roster bonuses totalling $1 million.

Hurns, however, has already surpassed the hard part.

“I knew I’d return,” Hurns said. ”I’m not sure where it’s going to be. I need to get healthy, put together a great training camp and go from there.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.