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NFL AM: Dez Bryant Expected To Play Against Seattle

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Dez Bryant set to return against Seahawks:

Although the Dallas Cowboys jumped off to an 2-0 start, no one expected them to have sustained success without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant.

Since their 2-0 start, Dallas has lost four straight and now they find themselves in a must win situation with the reigning two-time NFC champion Seattle Seahawks coming into town. During this skid, the Cowboys have only thrown two touchdown passes.

Fortunately for Dallas, Bryant returned to the practice field for the first time since Sept. 11. 

“We’re going to give him a certain amount of work and see how he’s handling it,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett stated before practice. “We’ll try to give him more as we go, and we’ll see how he does with the whole day’s work, see what he’s able to do tomorrow.”

There’s been numerous of reports saying Bryant is expected to play, but with that being said, we won’t fully know until Sunday afternoon.

“Every time Dez Bryant has broken the huddle in his career I think the defensive guys are looking for where No. 88 goes,” Garrett said. “So not only does he make a lot of plays, he draws a lot of attention from the opposing defense. Dez again is one of the most passionate guys I’ve ever been around. He loves football, he loves his teammates, he loves this team, so when you don’t have that presence that can have a negative impact on your team as well. I think the other guys have rallied around really well in his absence, but to get him back, just on the practice field and certainly once the game starts, will make a big difference to our football team, there’s no question in my mind about that.”

If the Cowboys are going to have any chance to upset the Seahawks without Romo, they’re going to need all hands on deck playing well and that has to include Bryant.

Marcus Mariota returns to practice:

After an impressive start to his career, you would’ve been convinced Marcus Mariota was the second coming of Dan Marino.

However, over the past few weeks, Mariota has looked human, which in result comes with a lot of heat when his counterpart, Jameis Winston, has shown signs of maturing.

Unfortunately, Mariota was sidelined last week due to a sprained MCL. On the bright side, the rookie has returned to practice, which offers a bit of optimism.

“If I can physically just do everything that’s asked of me in the offense, if I can move around in the pocket and do things like that,” Mariota said, via the team’s website. “I feel like I am getting there. I just have to continue to test it out in practice, monitor it, use the [medical staff] here, and make a decision.”

This is a situation we’ll be paying very close attention to as the week goes on.  The Titans find themselves losers of five straight, and all of the good feelings from the blowout victory on opening day of Tampa Bay seems to be evaporated.

If Mariota isn’t at full strength, Sunday will be no picnic for him as he and the Titans face the best defensive player of this generation, J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans.

This may be a time where Mariota can use a little extra rest and let Zach Mettenberger take the brunt of the punishment.

Can Miami pull off the upset in Foxborough?

The initial answer here is yes, but so many things must happen if Miami wants to have any chance. First things first, how do you slow down Tom Brady?

“At some point you just have to lineup and play football and ultimately that’s what we’ve got to do,” Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell said. “We’ve got to play our style of football and do our best to try to at least contain him or limit him.”

If the season ended today, there’s no doubt Tom Brady would win MVP honors.

The four-time Super Bowl champion has the best touchdown to interception ratio in the NFL, at 16:1, and his only intercepted pass came off a dropped ball by Julian Edelman.

Nonetheless, ever since the Dolphins fired Joe Philbin, this team has looked completely different under interim head coach Dan Campbell.  In their two wins under Campbell, Miami has won by a combined total of 82 to 36.

In order for Miami to come away victorious, their fierce pass rush led by Cameron Wake, must get constant pressure on Brady and they’ll need running back Lamar Miller to control the game on the ground. The goal is to ultimately keep Brady off the field as much as possible.

This isn’t another lowly AFC South opponent, it’s the defending Super Bowl champs.  If the Dolphins are going to keep the good vibes going under Dan Campbell, they’ll have to play a nearly perfect football game.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.