Dez Bryant could see preseason action

HOUSTON -- A poor offensive performance Saturday might prompt the Dallas Cowboys to play first-round pick Dez Bryant in Thursday's preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins.

Bryant, who has run warmup routes twice in the last three days, including Saturday, hasn't played in the preseason because of a high right ankle sprain.

"I'm very anxious to get back on the field," said Bryant, who suffered the injury July 30 and hasn't practiced since. "At the same time, I know it's a work in progress. I have to do everything everybody asks me to do to get back to 100 percent. I know how calm I am about the game of football. I just have to be smart."

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Bryant will play in the regular-season opener on Sept. 12 at Washington.

There was concern about playing Bryant with the second- and third-team units in the final preseason game. But when the Cowboys produced just 239 yards of offense in Saturday's 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips hinted he may have to play his first team against the Dolphins.

If Bryant plays in the preseason, it would have to be with the first team, and it would be with limited snaps.

"I don't know because we may play some of our starters," Jones said about Bryant's availability. "If he's out there, it's a different dynamic. With some of our starters and a real good week [of practice] we may get down to business and that may give him some time for us."

Bryant ran routes, mainly at half speed, Thursday in Oxnard, Calif., before his session was shut down by associate athletic trainer Britt Brown. He ran routes at full speed before Saturday's game and did cutting as he caught passes from backup quarterback Stephen McGee.

"Didn't seem to have any problem," Phillips said. "I'm still going with the doctors and athletic trainers as to when he will be ready. He seems to indicate he feels good, he has no pain. That's a good sign."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.