Analyzing How Dez Bryant's Injury Affects the Cowboys' Offense, Season

Ryan PhillipsContributor IIIAugust 21, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 18:  Wide receiver Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the sidelines in the fourth quarter of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on August 18, 2012 in San Diego, California.  The Chargers won 28-20.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The good news for Dallas Cowboys fans is that Dez Bryant's knee injury doesn't appear to be serious. He has patellar tendinitis in his right knee and should recover in time for the regular season. The bad news is that this is a huge year for Bryant, and he needs to be on the field as much as possible. Sitting out with a knee injury, however minor, isn't the way to start things off. 

Bryant has missed five games during his first two NFL seasons, but when on the field, he has flashed immense potential. As a rookie in 2010, he caught 45 passes for 561 yards and six touchdowns. Last season he improved on those numbers, hauling in 63 passes for 928 yards and nine scores. 

With Miles Austin already sitting out thanks to a hamstring injury, Bryant will be expected to carry more of the load offensively this season. In fact, if I was penciling things in right now for Week 1, I'd have Bryant as the team's top wideout. 

This is a make-or-break year for the Cowboys. Their window is rapidly closing, as the team's core is rapidly aging. Guys like Bryant must step up if they want Tony Romo (32 years old), Jason Witten (30) and DeMarcus Ware (30) to experience a championship. 

Sidelined with tendinitis in his knee is not a great way for Bryant to start the season. As a rookie, Bryant was lost for the year thanks to a fractured ankle, and he missed Dallas' Week 2 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers last year.

This season, he can't afford to miss any time with Austin banged up and Laurent Robinson gone to Jacksonville via free agency. If Bryant and Austin were to miss any significant time during the regular season, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley would be expected to step up. That's not exactly an exciting trio to think about. 

Bryant's injury doesn't look to be serious, and he should be back in time for the regular season. But he has to stay healthy this year if the Cowboys hope to compete in the NFC East.