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Friday, December 21, 2012
Dez Bryant dealing with finger injury

By Calvin Watkins
ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant said his life hasn't really changed much, like brushing his teeth and eating, with a broken left index finger. The only thing that's changed is playing Madden where he says he uses his middle finger for the L2 button.

Catching passes is another thing that hasn't bothered Bryant, who said he's doing that fine and acting like the finger doesn't hurt him.

"This finger (it's about) just mental toughness, that's all," Bryant said after Friday's practice as the Cowboys prepare for Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints. "If I felt like it was going to bring me down, I probably couldn't be out here doing what I'm doing. I don't think about it as much. I don't feel the pain. I just go out and play football."

Bryant still will need surgery in the offseason to repair a fractured finger. Cowboys owner/general manger Jerry Jones said after last week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that Bryant would need a bone graft to repair the finger. But this week, he corrected himself saying he misheard what doctors said regarding the procedure in fixing Bryant's finger.

Jones, who called himself Dr. Jones in an interview on KRLD-FM, said Bryant will not need a bone graft.

On the field, one of Jones' best playmakers is Bryant, who leads the Cowboys in receiving yards (1,087) and touchdowns (10). In the past six weeks, Bryant has caught eight touchdowns.

In the Steelers game, Bryant struggled to catch some passes and attributes that to getting used to playing with a splint on his finger, which exposes the tip of his index finger.

"On certain things, I wasn't sure," Bryant said of catching passes. "Now it's a whole different story. I felt like I'm catching as if my finger wasn't broken."

Bryant later added, "This week during practice, catching went fine. I'm reaching out and catching with my hands and doing it like my finger isn't broken."

Bryant's 584 receiving yards during the Cowboys' 5-1 run ranks behind only Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Houston's Andre Johnson and Chicago's Brandon Marshall over the past month and a half.

"Each and every week, it boosts my confidence just to know that Tony (Romo) believes in me," Bryant said. "I feel like I'm still working on it more, for Tony to trust me. I'm going to just keep doing what he wants me to do. I'm going to keep paying attention. I'm going to keep focused and see where it goes."

Bryant, who has put himself in the Pro Bowl conversation and helped the Cowboys get back in the playoff hunt, says he's "more confident than ever."

That doesn't mean Bryant is close to being satisfied. He's excited about how much better he can get.

"It just makes me feel like, hey, I can do whatever," said Bryant, who realizes that he builds trust with Romo on the practice field and in the meeting room and reaps the benefits during games. "That's always a good feeling. When you've got that, you don't want to mess that up."

Information from ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon was used in this report.