Our experts analyze the nature of the broken bone in Dez Bryant's foot, and the realistic hopes the Dallas Cowboys have of his return

CHQ medical expert Jeff Stotts works with me to analyze the nature of the broken bone in Dez Bryant's foot, and the realistic hopes the Dallas Cowboys have of his return.

The Dallas Cowboys’ Week 1 win over the Giants was exciting but costly as wide receiver Dez Bryant suffered a broken foot during the game. The injury occurred to the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, CowboysHQ.com reported on Sunday, and requires surgery that was performed Monday.

Dez' own view?

"I can't wait to get back!'' he tells CHQ, adding that he believes his return can come in four-weeks' time.


Dez was in a jubliant mood on Sunday night in his visit with us, upbeat due to the late 27-26 win over New York. He wore a black boot on his right foot, compression shorts as his only clothing and a large beige straw hat as he excitedly discussed plans to insert a screw into his foot and ... well, everything would be OK.

He reiterated the spirit on Twitter on Monday ...


Meanwhile, both owner Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett have been talking about "four-to-six weeks.''

Frequent readers of InStreetClothes.com know this injury well as it was thoroughly discussed last season after Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant suffered the injury during the preseason. However let’s get help from CHQ medical expert Jeff Stotts to revisit the specifics ... keeping in mind that one player's injury, surgery and recovery doesn't necessarily have to mirror another's.

The metatarsals are the long bones that comprise the foot and bridge the tarsal bones of the midfoot to the individual bones of the toe. As its name suggests, the fifth metatarsal is located on the outside of the foot, at the base of the pinkie or fifth toe. The fifth metatarsal serves as an anchor for several muscles, including the muscles responsible for moving the foot and outward as well as up and down. Unfortunately this makes the bone vulnerable to breaking when the ankle is forced inward, most commonly after making a hard cut or landing on the foot of another player.

Fifth metatarsal injuries can occur in multiple locations in a variety of ways. As previously mentioned, avulsion fractures of the bone can occur when a muscle pulls away a piece of bone. Stress fractures in the fifth metatarsal are also common and these generally develop along the mid-shaft of the bone. The most serious of these breaks is the Jones fracture, an acute break that occurs near the base of the bone. Jones fractures are particularly problematic because the amount of available blood to the area is limited, stunting the healing process. As a result, Jones fractures generally require surgical intervention in hopes of avoiding a delayed union or nonunion.


To complicate things surgery does not guarantee a speedy recovery and the odds of a re-fracture in the area are high, as Durant experienced first-hand last year in his lost season. Problems following surgery generally are associated with the surgical hardware as it can bend, fail, or even break. Follow-up procedures are often utilized to address any hardware-related problems, lengthening the time missed.

According to the InStreetClothes.com database, one out of every three NBA players that required surgery to address a fifth metatarsal fracture suffered a second fracture or needed a follow-up surgery, including Durant, Glen “Big Baby” Davis, and Brook Lopez. NFL players, especially wide receivers are no stranger to the injury either, as Atlanta’s Julio Jones and former Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks have endured the injury in recent seasons. Every injury is different; but as Jeff Stotts guides us here, he notes, "Unfortunately the precedent set by these and other receivers doesn’t bode well for the Cowboys.''

Jones initially broke his left fifth metatarsal during the 2011 scouting combine. The Falcons drafted him anyway but he wasn’t cleared to run until 10 weeks after surgery. The foot was a non-factor until the 2013 season when he re-broke the area and needed a second surgery that forced him to miss the final 11 games of the year. Nicks broke his foot during OTA’s in late May of 2012 and spent the next 13 weeks recovering before returning for the final preseason game of the year. The foot remained an issue throughout the season, limiting his snaps in practice and games. More recently rookie receiver DaVante Parker missed nearly three months of activity after the Dolphins proactively addressed a hardware issue with a fifth metatarsal injury he suffered in college.

Dallas has another example to consider having previously dealt with this type of injury. Last season defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence suffered a fractured fifth metatarsal during a summer practice and missed the first eight games of the season after being placed on the PUP list. The team initially believed he would miss eight to 10 weeks.

Looking at these examples, the four-to-six recovery window offered by Dallas appears to be a best-case scenario. Bryant, a fiery competitor, may be his own worst enemy, as rushing back from this injury could prove to be detrimental to his long-term health, especially given his injury history. (As we've noted in a Twitter conversation with FOX's Mike Garafalo, Cowboys medical personnel will need a straightjacket to keep Dez from pushing hard to get back on the field.

But ... To start, this is Bryant’s second surgery on his right foot and ankle. During his rookie campaign, Bryant fractured his right fibula and a surgical plate was inserted to stabilize the area. Ensuring no extra stress is placed on that area will be key to avoiding any potential cascade injury. Furthermore, the nature of the injury will limit Bryant’s ability to condition and he will need additional time to get back up to speed when he is cleared to resume football-related activity. This will be particularly important when you consider his recent hamstring problems. Any setback there would simply delay a potential return. Cowboys people, and Dez himself, tell us he's in the best shape of his life. But "best shape'' doesn't prevent injuryf

Given that the ink on his five-year, $70-million contract with the team is barely dry, a medical mind like Jeff Stotts says he is "betting the Cowboys will ultimately play things a bit more conservatively.'' He also believes, "History suggests Bryant will miss more than the currently predicted amount of time, though the Pro-Bowl wideout appears hell-bent on returning to the field as soon as possible.''

So Dez seems notably optimistic at four. Cowboys management seems thoughfully hopeful at six. Only time will really tell. ... and while the clock ticks on a brand-new season, the Dallas offense will have to make due without a key piece of its aerial attack as a team with title aspirations looks to make a run at Super Bowl 50. ... a team that will be robbed of a heart-and-soul player if Dez Bryant isn't at the center of it.

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