Dez Bryant might not play in preseason

Updated: August 16, 2010, 9:16 PM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

OXNARD, Calif. -- Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has tempered his optimism about first-round pick Dez Bryant playing in the preseason, saying the team needs to weigh the risks before putting the receiver on the field for a game that doesn't count in the standings.

Bryant, who suffered a right high ankle sprain July 30 that was expected to sideline him from four to six weeks, wants to return for the Aug. 28 game against the Houston Texans. That would allow him to play in the final two preseason games.

"I just think it'd be best for me to go out there to get some work in," said Bryant, who hasn't played a game since September after being suspended by the NCAA for most of his final season at Oklahoma State. "I just feel like I need the feel of the game. I need to get a hit or something."

Doctors gave Bryant permission to stop wearing a walking boot Saturday. He has done light rehab work since then and said that he feels no pain in the ankle.

However, he isn't ready to plant and cut with his right foot.

Jones expressed hope over the weekend that Bryant could play two preseason games, but he preached caution on Monday.

"We have got to watch getting too overanxious with him," Jones said. "But yet we know it would be helpful to him to get him work and get him in a couple of these preseason games. It's going to be a decision that is additive to a medical decision, no matter how we look at it."

Bryant fielded a few punts before Sunday afternoon's practice, but Jones told him not to do that again until the Cowboys' medical staff clears him to play.

"He doesn't want me doing it, so that's it," Bryant said. "That's an automatic win. Whatever he says goes."

Jones said Bryant would be close to returning if the Cowboys were already in the regular season, but he was concerned about putting the ankle at risk for a preseason game.

It would be an easy decision with a veteran player, Jones said. In that case, the Cowboys would opt to hold him out until the regular-season opener. But Bryant would benefit from playing in the preseason.

"It's the rookie factor. You'd like to see him get in," Jones said. "He's obviously dying to get in, but that's the decision right there. How smart is this?"