The Dallas Cowboys have lost four consecutive games without both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, and things don’t get any easier when they host the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Hope may be on the way, as Dallas could get one of their stars back in Week 8.
Bryant returned to the field with the Cowboys on Wednesday, practicing for the first time since Sept. 11. The wide receiver was limited, and he’s no guarantee to play on Sunday, but it’s certainly a good sign for the Cowboys and their offense. He’s been doing on-field rehab for two weeks, and he received a stem cell injection to help his return.
Bryant suffered a broken bone in his right foot against the New York Giants in Dallas’ season opener after catching five passes for 48 yards. Last season, Bryant led the Cowboys with 82.5 yards per game. Without Bryant, Terrance Williams has become Dallas’ No.1 wide receiver, though he’s averaging just 48 yards per contest.
There’s no chance for Romo to return against the Seahawks. The veteran quarterback isn’t eligible to play until Dallas hosts the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 22, because he was placed on the injured reserve/designated to return list.
Brandon Weeden went 0-3 as Romo’s replacement, throwing just one touchdown pass as a starter. Matt Cassel took over as Dallas’ quarterback last week, but he also struggled, throwing three interceptions in a loss to the Giants.
Dallas’ passing attack faces a stiff challenge against the Seahawks with or without Bryant. While Seattle’s defense has been inconsistent in 2015, particularly with some poor efforts in fourth quarters, they remain stingy against the pass. The Seahawks’ defense ranks third in the NFL, allowing an average of 200 yards through the air per game.
Seattle is also dealing with injuries of their own. The Seahawks have rushed for more yards than any other NFL team, but their leading rusher has a calf injury. Thomas Rawls leads the team with 366 rushing yards on 5.6 yards per carry, having filled in for Marshawn Lynch, who’s been hurt for part of this season. Now it’s Rawls who is hurt, and Seattle has signed running back Bryce Brown as a result.
Rawls hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday, and the team hopes he’s back at practice by Thursday. But he could be forced to sit against the Cowboys, who rank ninth against the run. Rawls carried the ball just seven times in the last two games, and Lynch had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season last week.
Dallas upset Seattle last season when they visited the Seahawks in Week 6. Bryant caught four passes for 63 yards, and Seattle was limited to 80 rushing yards.