Dez Bryant has surgery on leg

Updated: December 7, 2010, 9:33 AM ET
By Todd Archer | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant underwent successful surgery Monday morning, less than 24 hours after fracturing his right fibula against Indianapolis.

Bryant had a plate inserted into his leg to stabilize the bone, and the Cowboys will put the rookie wide receiver on injured reserve, ending his season. Bryant suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the 38-35 overtime win on a kickoff return in which linebacker Kavell Conner landed on the ankle while making the tackle.

Interim head coach Jason Garrett said Bryant would need three to four months to recover from the surgery.

"It's important for him to stay engaged with our team and be a part of it," Garrett said. "The biggest thing for him is to rehab and get himself physically healthy, but it's important to be a part of what we're doing and learn really each and every day based on what the other guys are doing. I think whenever you have the experience of playing some and then you're not playing, you can kind of even benefit maybe even more as a result of that perspective that you have."

Special teams captain Sam Hurd and Kevin Ogletree will get more time at receiver over the final month, but won't provide the same kind of threat.

Ogletree came on strong late last season, his rookie year, but Bryant's success has made him a forgotten man. He's only been active for five games and hasn't caught a pass.

The Cowboys have been questioned for letting such a valuable player return kicks because of exactly what happened -- he's vulnerable to getting hurt. But Garrett pointed out that Bryant's ability as a returner was part of why Dallas wanted him.

"He was the best returner coming out in the draft and we thought he was the best receiver coming out in the draft, so we wanted to make sure we used both of those abilities that he has," Garrett said. "You never want to put guys in precarious positions, but that's a part of what he does."

Receivers coach Ray Sherman said he hopes Bryant can maintain his weight while recovering. Then Sherman expects Bryant to spend the offseason getting stronger and becoming "a better receiver, being a better route-runner, being a more-disciplined route-runner, just having an overall understanding of what he needs to do."

"Usually that's what happens with young guys," Sherman said. "After you go through a season and then the next year, you have an idea of what to do. He'll have an idea."

Quarterback Jon Kitna has been giving Bryant words of wisdom since the summer. What advice is the 38-year-old, 14-year veteran passing along now?

"When you're given the opportunity to give your body rest, you need to take the opportunity to let it rest and heal, because it just doesn't come along very often," Kitna said. "It's hard to do, especially as a young guy. You want to constantly push the envelope. But you've got to stay on schedule, be disciplined with the trainers and stuff. He's going to be fine."

Bryant's injury was not the only one suffered by the Cowboys against Indianapolis. Tight end Jason Witten suffered a high left ankle sprain in the fourth quarter but managed to return and caught a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Witten said after the game he would be OK, and he has missed only one game in his career, which came as a rookie in 2003.

Linebacker Sean Lee suffered a bruised shoulder on his 31-yard interception return for a touchdown but also returned to the game after getting his shoulder pads adjusted in the locker room and set up the game-winning field goal with an overtime interception.

Safety Gerald Sensabaugh has a quadriceps injury but he returned to the field, too.

Linebacker Keith Brooking was in a boot after the game to protect his sprained left foot.

"It held up all right," Brooking said after the game, "but I was kind of limited in the fourth quarter. I don't think I set myself back at all. Hopefully."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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