Dez Bryant isn’t going to play in the Pro Bowl on Sunday, but Jason Witten is.
A lingering groin injury has sidelined Bryant from the all-star exhibition game, while Witten became a 10-time Pro Bowler as an injury replacement for Denver’s Julius Thomas. Bryant’s replacement will be Green Bay’s Randall Cobb.
Bryant played in all 16 regular-season games and two postseason games for the Cowboys. The groin injury was unknown throughout the season, as it never appeared on the weekly injury report.
Bryant, 26, was selected to his second Pro Bowl last month. He finished the season with 88 catches for 1,320 yards and 16 touchdowns.
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The 16 receiving TDs were the most in the NFL and also set the Cowboys’ single-season record, eclipsing Terrell Owens’ 15 in 2007.
Bryant is set to become a free agent in March and is seeking a long-term deal with the Cowboys. The team would like to reach agreement on an extension, too, but will use the franchise tag if one can’t be reached.
Bryant has put together three consecutive seasons with at least 1,200 receiving yards and 12 TDs.
Witten, meanwhile, was among those considered as “snubs” when the rosters were originally released. He didn’t put up the numbers, but was still a productive all-around tight end. He finished with 64 catches for 703 yards, the fewest yards since his rookie season.
Witten’s 10 career selections tie Mel Renfro and Larry Allen for the second-most Pro Bowl selections in franchise history. Only Bob Lilly, with 11, has more than Witten.
With Bryant’s removal and Witten’s addition, the Cowboys will still have seven players in the Pro Bowl. Joining Witten will be running back DeMarco Murray, quarterback Tony Romo, offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and Travis Frederick, and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur.