Despite a 4-9 record and the faintest of hopes for making the postseason, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says the team will not shut down receiver Dez Bryant.
"Shut him down? No," Jones told 105.3 "The Fan" in Dallas on Tuesday via the Dallas News. "He'll be a very important part of what we initiate and what we hope we're still doing in the second half and hopefully through the end of the ball game."
Bryant, missed five games recovering from a broken foot suffered in Week 1. He’s also dealt with lingering knee and ankle injuries since Nov. 8. Jones suggested the lack of practice time in the spring, training camp and the preseason has played a role in Bryant’s struggles.
"I'm not so sure the foot is an issue apart from the fact that it limited him very early in the season and training camp, and of course the way [we] were involved in negotiations during the spring," Jones said. "In my mind, it is completely related to lack of practice, repetition.
In eight games, he has caught 27 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns. Bryant, who signed a five-year, $70 million deal this offseason, doesn’t have more than five receptions in any game. In every game besides one, he's totaled 62 yards receiving or less.
Bryant reeled in just one catch on six targets for nine yards in Sunday’s 28-7 loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field. He also dropped two balls and had a third deflect into a defender’s arms for an interception. The quarterback scenario hasn’t helped Bryant, either. He was out many of the games Tony Romo missed with a broken clavicle but Romo’s follow-up injury has left Bryant with Matt Cassel on a permanent basis and the two have yet to get on the same page.
Jones wrote off Bryant’s issues in Week 14 as a deviation from the norm. "Now, that was an aberration, in my mind, in Green Bay," Jones said. "I don't know if it was the slick ball. I don't know that anybody does. But whatever it was, we shouldn't expect to have that kind of result or that kind of performance from Dez or certain other areas of the team."
The Cowboys host the New York Jets on Saturday, visit the Buffalo Bills in Week 16 and host the Washington Redskins in Week 17.