How concerning is Dez Bryant's back?

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas – Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant did not practice on Wednesday. His back was tight.

In the locker room after practice, Bryant said there was no doubt that he would play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The rest of the organization has that feeling, too. The day off was just a precaution.

Bryant
Bryant
But what about the future?

Bryant turned 25 on Monday. A 25-year-old with back issues does not portend well for a 28-, 29- or 30-year-old.

The Cowboys do not believe there is a structural issue with Bryant’s back, but it is something that has acted up a few times. The most severe case came in the 2012 season finale at Washington. Bryant could not finish the game and needed a wheelchair to the bus out of FedEx Field. It bugged him some in training camp and earlier in the season.

Bryant is signed through 2014. The Cowboys have shown a willingness to sign their core players to extensions as they enter the final year of their contracts. They did it with Sean Lee in August. They did it with Tony Romo in the offseason.

Bryant looks ready to cash in on a megamillions deal just like Lee and Romo did. Lee had yet to play a full season because of injuries to his hamstring, thumb and foot, but the Cowboys invested in him. Romo, who is eight years older than Bryant, was having back issues when he signed his six-year extension worth $108 million. He would have a cyst removed from his back not long thereafter and miss the entire offseason.

Should Bryant’s back give them pause?

The Cowboys have to determine what causes the tightness in Bryant’s back and figure out a way to keep him loose. He is too valuable to miss time, be it a practice or a game. He is too young to have back problems.

Ultimately, does this prevent the Cowboys from keeping Bryant in their long-term plans? Not really, but it has to be a little concerning.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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