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Dez Bryant expected to miss 10-12 weeks because of bone graft

The Cowboys are expected to be without star receiver Dez Bryant for longer than the team initially feared. In fact, there is a chance they don't see Bryant on the field until December.

Bryant, who broke a small bone in his foot late during the opening win over the Giants, actually needed a bone graft during the surgery that took place last Monday, according to sources informed of his procedure. So instead of a four-to-six week recovery as the team had hoped, Bryant faces a 10-12 week timeframe.

Ten weeks from the injury would be Nov. 22 against the Dolphins, and Dallas hosts the Panthers in a short-turnaround on Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Day. If he's not fully ready for that stretch, the Cowboys might wait the full 12 weeks and have him back for the final five games.

The Cowboys discussed putting Bryant on Injured Reserve/Designated-to-Return, which would have knocked him out a minimum of eight weeks. Coach Jason Garrett said Friday, "In Dez's case, we want to give him every opportunity to be back as soon as he can."

The Cowboys have not provided a timetable on Bryant, whose injury is called a "Jones Fracture." Initially, they hoped he'd be back within a month, confident in an aggressive rehab and recovery. However, as details come to light about the procedure, that is now viewed as not realistic.

Asked to confirm whether Bryant had a bone graft, a Cowboys source would only say, "he is on schedule."

Sources say doctors did a bone graft on Bryant while inserting a screw into his foot to help the fifth metatarsal heal, which could mean he's out 12 weeks. Essentially, that means the doctors transplanted bones to an area in need.

One surgeon well-versed in the procedure explained a bone graft can be used to help the bone heal if there is a chronic component to the injury -- if it's an issue the player has had before. If this injury was a straight-forward "Jones fracture" it wouldn't need a bone graft.

According to the surgeon, who did not examine Bryant, the use of the bone graft indicates the doctor was worried enough about the bone healing by itself that the decision was made to add to the procedure.

And for the Cowboys, it's one reason they aren't likely to see Bryant on the field until deep into the season.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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