Are the Dallas Cowboys Simply Asking Too Much of Dez Bryant?

Nick KostoraContributor IIIDecember 17, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on October 1, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Dez Bryant's performance over the last six games has been nothing short of remarkable, but are the Dallas Cowboys asking too much of him right now?

As the Cowboys have won five of their last six games and moved into a dead heat in the NFC East playoff race, Bryant has caught 34 passes for 584 yards and eight touchdowns.

He has proven that he can play at an elite level despite having a broken left finger that will likely require a bone graft at season's end. And Dallas has needed every ounce of production he has provided, with its last four wins coming by a combined 12 points.

The question, however, is if the Cowboys are putting too much pressure on the young man's shoulders. Owner Jerry Jones said that the finger injury is severe enough that it could require extracting tissue from Bryant's hip.

Should Dallas be relying so heavily on a clearly wounded player?

There are other playmakers on this team capable of stepping up in clutch situations. Jason Witten, Miles Austin and DeMarco Murray are all players that immediately come to mind.

This is not to say that Bryant's play has not been superb, but it seems fair to ask if the Cowboys are putting too much stock in Bryant at the wrong time.

Bryant said (via Marc Sessler the finger felt fine during Sunday's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he looked to be battling pain on some of his catches.

Perhaps it is all worth it. Having Bryant on the field may be the motivation that this team has needed to get on its current streak. Head coach Jason Garrett said as much, per Tim MacMahon of

When you're a coach and you're a player and a guy has that determination and shows that mental and physical toughness for playing, it's contagious. Beyond that, he makes a ton of plays.

Still, it seems risky to rely so heavily on a player that has a splint on his left hand and has the troubled past of Bryant.

From a domestic violence assault incident involving his mother to team imposed bans on strip clubs and alcohol, Bryant's checkered past is well documented.

He is doing all the right things and showcasing the type of growth that everyone hopes to see, but Bryant is a wild card and everyone knows it.

Dallas can continue to lean on Bryant, and recent history suggests that he will continue to succeed. Yet, somewhere in the back of the organization's collective minds, it must be realized that there is a risk being taken by making Bryant the focal point of the offense during this run to the playoffs.

Will it pay off?

Quite possibly, but the risk is there, and it at least needs to be recognized.