Bryant is in­spir­ing team­mates

Cow­boys

Austin American-Statesman - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL - Con­tin­ued from C

do,” said tight end Ja­son Wit­ten, who would know be­cause he once ran 30 yards down­field with­out a hel­met be­fore get­ting tack­led and played in the opener this sea­son with a lac­er­ated spleen. “He earned my re­spect.”

Bryant broke the fin­ger on a catch against Cincin­nati two weeks ago. He scored a crit­i­cal touch­down in the 20-19 win af­ter the in­jury and made it clear early last week that he would play against Pitts­burgh.

Play­ing with a padded glove that ex­posed the tip of the bro­ken fin­ger, Bryant looked like a de­coy in the first quar­ter be­cause Tony Romo kept throw­ing to Miles Austin, but he still scored a touch­down for the sixth straight game — catch­ing a ball away from his body, fin­gers first — and fin­ished with four catches for 59 yards.

The Cow­boys (8-6) beat the Steel­ers 27-24 in over­time last week­end and emerged with con­trol of their play­off hopes. Dal­las moves on with wins over New Or­leans (6-8) at home on Sun­day and at Washington in the fi­nale.

“I just wanted to be out there and I felt like I needed to,” Bryant said. “Miles came up to me and said, ‘We’re all really in­spired by you play­ing.’ I can tell from the guys that it meant a lot.”

Jones, ever the op­ti­mist, has been guarded as Bryant kept string­ing to­gether good games. He gushed about the re­ceiver af­ter beat­ing the Steel­ers, but scared Bryant a lit­tle by of­fer­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of a bone graft in­volv­ing Bryant’s hip (“You’re not touch­ing my hip,” Bryant told re­porters Sun­day af­ter hear­ing the Jones di­ag­no­sis). Turns out Jones just mis­un­der­stood the doc­tors. The bone will come from the hand. But Jones’ point was clear: the in­jury is se­ri­ous.

“He cer­tainly is play­ing with some risks, but he was in­spi­ra­tional out there to ev­ery­body in­volved in the or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Jones said. “He meant it be­cause we were still play­ing for all the mar­bles, and he wanted to give ev­ery­thing he could.”

While Dal­las coach Ja­son Gar­rett said med­i­cal opin­ions did fac­tor in the de­ci­sion, Bryant said his rea­son­ing was sim­ple: The Cow­boys were still in the play­off hunt.

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