Trading Rookies

IRVING, Tex. - As if the Dallas Cowboys didn't have enough problems contributing to their 1-6 start, they learned this week that they will be without one of their more promising young players for an extended period of time.

Late in Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, rookie defensive back/kickoff return specialist Akwasi Owusu-Ansah settled under a kickoff and took off, only to roll his ankle.

While stretched out on the ground in pain, Owusu-Ansah said he knew something was wrong, but he didn't know the extent of the damage.

"I knew something had happened," Owusu-Ansah said, "but I didn't know how bad it was."

Tests showed that Owusu-Ansah had not suffered any structural damage to the ankle, although he did spend this week walking around the team's facility in Valley Ranch with a protective walking boot over his bad ankle.

Owusu-Ansah said he didn't twist the ankle or step on another player's foot.

"It was just the way I was tackled," he said.

Owusu-Ansah said he was told by doctors that his injury is a high ankle sprain, and that he should expect to be out somewhere between four and six weeks.

To take his place on the roster, the Cowboys promoted rookie cornerback Bryan McCann — who also returned kicks while playing his collegiate ball at SMU — from the practice squad to the active roster.

McCann said he will play on all four Dallas special teams — punt and punt return, kickoff and kickoff return — and said he has been working with the team's nickel and dime defenses.

"I'm just trying to replace 27 (Owusu-Ansah)," McCann said. "He is a very versatile player — he does a lot of things, and does them well."

Owusu-Ansah has averaged 21.7 yards on 25 kickoff returns this year with a long of 41 yards. He ranks 16th in the NFC and 28th in the NFL in kickoff return average.

The Cowboys spent their fourth-round pick in April's 2010 NFL draft to draft Owusu-Ansah out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Owusu-Ansah said that while there never is an ideal time to suffer an injury, the timing of his injury was particularly unfortunate because he was getting used to his role each week.

"Every game, I was getting more and more comfortable," Owusu-Ansah said. "My teammates have been doing such a good job on returns. It feels like we were getting pretty close to breaking one."

McCann said he expects to return kickoffs and serve as the "off return" man on the punt return team, lining up deep next to rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant. On the punt team, he expects to play as one of the team's gunners, while on the kickoff team, he'll play the "No. 2 position" on the outside, whose primary job is to keep containment against opposing return specialists.

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