Julio Jones offers hope for what Dez Bryant can do after second surgery

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IRVING, Texas -- If all goes well with Dez Bryant’s impending surgeries to his right foot and ankle, then he should be ready to go for the team’s offseason program in April.

That will play a major part in Bryant’s return to being one of the best wide receivers in the NFL again in 2016.

For as gifted as he is athletically, Bryant needs practice. Yes, Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice. Bryant did not practice in April, May and June as he and the team looked to resolve a contract dispute. He did not practice until the start of training camp and a few days in he suffered a hamstring strain that limited him to half of the practices in Oxnard, California, and the four preseason games.

Bryant was never really Bryant this season. Let’s say he was at his healthiest for the season opener against the New York Giants. He caught five passes for 48 yards against a pass defense that is last in the NFL with one game to go.

Bryant’s desire should never be questioned. He did everything he could to play this season, even when things were going wrong for him.

“We believe in having the right kind of guys on our football team and a lot of that has to do with their football character and a lot of that has to do with their mental and physical toughness,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Dez has had different injuries over the course of his career and he’s battled through them as well as any player I’ve been around in terms of practicing when he can practice and then playing when he hasn’t had that much practice time. He did that over the course of this year many different times.

“One of the challenges of the National Football League is very few players are 100 percent over the course of the year. It’s a rigorous game. It’s a physical game. And guys get banged-up. You want to have the kind of guys on your football team who keep fighting through it physically and mentally and are there for you.”

There is a natural concern about Bryant’s future with him requiring a second foot surgery. Will he be Dez Bryant again?

Last September Julio Jones offered up advice for Bryant as he was coming back from his first surgery. In 2011, Jones had the surgery after the scouting combine and played in 13 games as a rookie. He had a second surgery in 2013 that limited him to five games and had him on bed rest for two months.

“With Dez, he’s just going to have to take time and get healed up properly,” Jones said on a conference call. “You don’t want to rush it and then it sets you back. If you come back too early, then it can put you back again. So, my thing to Dez is, just get fully healthy and then you can go out there and help your teammates.”

Jones said sitting out was painful because he wanted to be with his teammates but he saw the big picture.

In the past two years, Jones has caught 231 passes for 3,315 yards and 14 touchdowns and has not had a problem with his foot.

Bryant needs to use the time off from the second surgery wisely to make sure he can be on the field for practice so he can be Dez Bryant again in games in 2016.