Bryant practiced for the first time with the Saints on Thursday, but his season may have ended Friday.
The New Orleans Saints officially added Dez Bryant to the fold Wednesday, and got him on the practice field for the first time Thursday. But one day after his first time in a Saints uniform, Bryant’s season may be over.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Bryant suffered what the Saints fear was a torn Achilles. He’s going to get an MRI to find out more, but if it’s a tear that would be a season-ending injury and potentially jeopardize his chances at contributing in 2019, as well.
Bryant did not confirm the injury, but he did thank his supporters:
Things was just starting to heat up for me… I won’t question the man upstairs… this is the ultimate test.. thank you everyone for the prayers
— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) November 9, 2018
Saints teammates Michael Thomas and Mark Ingram showed Bryant — and his signature celebration — some love too:
Best believe we throwing up the X still bro ♂️ #weallwegot
— Michael Thomas (@Cantguardmike) November 9, 2018
The “X” still going up bro!! ♂️ ♂️ ♂️ https://t.co/dVpFJrE62w
— Mark Ingram II (@MarkIngram22) November 9, 2018
The bad news for Bryant came shortly after Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters the veteran receiver was looking good in practice and coming along.
Sean Payton after practice today on how Dez Bryant has looked: “Good. Listen, there’s a lot he’s learning. There’s a lot going on. Just getting him up to speed as quickly as possible.”
Less than an hour later, @TomPelissero and @RapSheet report Bryant might have a torn Achilles.
— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) November 9, 2018
The injury reportedly happened on the final play of practice on what was an otherwise “routine route” for the receiver.
A #Saints source who witnessed Dez Bryant’s injury while taking part in his second practice with the team described it thusly: “(He) just went down. Freak deal. No contact.’’
— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) November 9, 2018
The Saints will wait for the MRI to tell if the damage is as bad as they fear, but for now Bryant is listed on the team’s injury report as questionable with an ankle injury.
What does this mean for Bryant?
If it is indeed a torn Achilles, it’s a brutal injury for Bryant, who waited until November to sign with a team. Bryant, 30, spent the first eight seasons of his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl and racking up 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns. After he was released by the team in April, Bryant wasn’t quick to join another team, even reportedly spurning an offer from the Ravens.
After spending the first half of the season watching and tweeting about the NFL from home, Bryant joined a playoff contender in New Orleans and was excited about his new digs:
Dez officially has his new Saints jersey pic.twitter.com/HKeIGEGXyv
— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 9, 2018
The recovery for a torn Achilles is usually about a year, which is a tough timetable for a 30-year-old receiver who hasn’t played since the end of 2017. It’s too soon to know if Bryant will try to rehab, or if he decides to hang it up for good.
The doctors for the Saints are going to do tests on his Achilles, but they already believe that it’s torn. If he can follow the timetable for recovery, he might be on track to be ready for training camp in 2019.
Testing on Saints’ WR Dez Bryant’s Achilles is considered “a formality”, per source. Doctors believe it is torn. Injury expected to sideline him eight months, putting him on track to potentially be ready for training camp.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 9, 2018
What does it mean for the Saints?
If the injury does prove to be season-ending, it’ll leave the Saints needing another receiver to fill the void. The solution for that could be Brandon Marshall, who was released by the Seattle Seahawks earlier in the season. Marshall, Bryant, and Kamar Aiken all worked out for the Saints earlier in the week before New Orleans decided to sign Bryant. Marshall, however, impressed the Saints and could have been their choice if he hadn’t been for Bryant, according to Ian Rapoport.
They also have Keith Kirkwood and Shane Wynn on their practice squad if they decide to call a receive up to the active roster. Just this week, Saints teammates were raving about Kirkwood, an undrafted rookie out of Temple.
Bryant is the fifth receiver for the Saints who has suffered a major injury. Cameron Meredith was just placed on injured reserve Thursday, while Ted Ginn Jr. and Travin Dural are still on IR. Tommylee Lewis went on IR earlier this season, but he can play again after Week 11.
The Saints are 7-1 and one of the best teams in the NFL right now. Drew Brees is having a career year, and Michael Thomas has made a name for himself as a legitimate No. 1 receiver. Running back Alvin Kamara is also a huge weapon in the passing game.
But Bryant was supposed to help take some pressure off Thomas and give the Saints another experienced wideout as they try to aim for the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Unfortunately, they will now have to find that help elsewhere.
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