Cowboys' Woodson injured and Bryant status to be determined

Friday, July 23rd 2004, 11:42 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) - The Dallas Cowboys know they will be without safety Darren Woodson for all of training camp. They find out next week whether receiver Antonio Bryant will ever be back.

Woodson has a herniated disc in his back. If all goes as expected at a doctor's visit Monday, he'll have the disc removed Tuesday and be sidelined up to eight weeks. Bryant's status has been iffy since he threw his sweaty jersey in the face of coach Bill Parcells during a practice last month. Bryant was angry about his role, fearing that the arrival of Keyshawn Johnson would mean fewer balls for him to catch.

Parcells and Bryant haven't spoken since but have a face-to-face meeting early next week. That conversation will go a long way toward determining whether Bryant will be among the players reporting to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., on Friday.

"One way or another we'll have that sorted through," team owner Jerry Jones said.

Bryant endeared himself to Parcells early in training camp last season by having hand surgery one morning in Dallas and flying back to San Antonio in time for an afternoon practice. Their relationship became strained during the season, and his statistics dropped from the previous year, when he was a rookie.

Bryant has told his agent, Lamont Smith, that he regrets what he did. Smith has passed that along to team officials and believes they will give the receiver another chance - as long as Bryant handles himself well in the upcoming meeting.

"I know what Antonio is going to say. I know what his position is. I think that if he says and does those things, then he's going to be a Cowboy," said Smith, who was at team headquarters Friday finalizing a contract for another client, running back Eddie George.

If Woodson is out for eight weeks, that would be through the second game of the season. The other option would be waiting for it to heal, but Jones said that would cause "a lot of guesswork."

Other items on the team's to-do list before camp include signing all draft picks and making sure they have the space under the salary cap to do so.

Stephen Jones, the team's chief operating officer, said George's contract will require other moves to get under the cap. The two most likely are releasing quarterback Chad Hutchinson and putting running back Erik Bickerstaff on injured reserve.

Hutchinson never lived up to the big signing bonus he received when returning to football from a baseball career. After failing to beat out Quincy Carter for the starting job last season, he had a mediocre performance in NFL Europe.

Bickerstaff had surgery last month to repair a torn Achilles' tendon. His recovery will keep him out the entire season.