Jones says he wasn't being critical

Dallas owner Jerry Jones sparked something of a firestorm when he spoke to the media Saturday after learning that rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant had suffered a high ankle sprain late in practice.

Jones's comments, which questioned when and how Bryant was being used in practice, struck some as critical of the way head coach Wade Phillips and his staff ran practice.

Jones said Sunday that such a perception was inaccurate, and lauded Phillips for his ability to learn from a play or a practice and make sure things run better the next time.

"I'm not trying to be critical; I'm trying to be analytical," Jones said. "This is when we sit down and look at everything we are doing and see if there are things that you can do to protect your team better, especially during this time when you have five or six weeks before the season opener.

"I have had those conversations over the past 24 hours. It's not just relative to defensive back play or receiver play — it's in general … and by the way, Wade is one of the best at this. He is very good at finding anything we can do different and how to learn from it."

Jones said Bryant's prognosis called for a return in "four weeks at best — it is a very typical high ankle injury," and said Bryant understandably is upset about being forced to sit out.

"He is very disappointed," Jones said of his star rookie. "When he initially found out that he was going to miss some preseason games, it really bothered him.

"But we have to deal with it, we will deal with it and have him ready to go. But you can see when Martellus Bennett steps out here and lights it up, I'm not so sure you miss him much."

Before anyone could report that Jones didn't think the Cowboys would miss a rookie who already has proven to have a wide range of skills, Jones quickly made sure the gathered media realized he was kidding.

"I do that with a wink," Jones said, "when he comes out here after three weeks, catches everything and plays lights out."

Jones said Bryant's injury should create more chances for veteran wide receiver Patrick Crayton, who missed much of the team's offseason program while seeking a trade.

"Anytime you lose a player, the others are going to get more repetitions, and that's the case," Jones said. "So he will get more reps, and so will (Sam) Hurd. They will all get more."

Jones stopped short, however, of saying that the extra reps mean Crayton will remain a Cowboy in 2010.

"I don't want to go there," Jones said. "He is on the team, he has a contract, and that's been my stance since the beginning; he is there."

Jones said he is not worried that his comments about Bryant's injury, and the way the team's practice schedule might have affected, would be taken out of context.

"I haven't seen them taken wrong yet," he said. "We are just talking about it and any way we can during this period of time to mitigate entries. So that's why some of these veteran players are having limited practice. That's right in line with that thinking. Wade is one of the best that has ever been around at doing this (limiting players)."

Jones said that the fact Bryant got hurt in July doesn't mean he will not still factor into the return game on special teams. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and Phillips have yet to name their returners for kickoffs or punts, and despite his value to the offense and his training camp injury, Bryant remains a candidate to be one of the team's return specialists in 2010.

"He may be doing punt returns in December," Jones said. "We won't even remember this by the time we get to December. That is a lifetime away. We get caught up in something like an injury, but it's basically taking away some weeks rather than a season."

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