The moment Dez Bryant removed his boot, the tug of war between optimism and caution began.
Owner Jerry Jones is hopeful the team's No. 1 pick will be able to play in the Cowboys final two preseason games, a hope Bryant echoed Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Wade Phillips, however, said the training staff has given him no feel for that timeframe. His hope is that the receiver will be ready for the season opener in Washington on Sept. 12.
How Bryant's high-ankle sprain responds in the next few days and weeks will determine when he makes his debut. For now, he's been cleared to do cardio work on the treadmill. A power walk, he calls it, along with some work on the stair step machine.
Bryant said he feels excellent and hopes the training staff will give him something harder to do Sunday. And pain?
"No pain at all,'' said Bryant, who injured his right ankle on July 30. "I'm fine. At the same time, I still know I can't cut the way I want.
"It doesn't hurt when I cut. It doesn't give out. I feel like I don't get enough push.''
Bryant concedes he doesn't know yet when he'll be able to make his debut. His goal has been Miami in the final regular season game _ a game Phillips traditionally plays none of his regulars. But the way Bryant felt Saturday, he's made an adjustment.
"The way I feel, my goal is Houston,'' Bryant said of the game against the Texans on Aug. 28. "If I feel real good, I'm going to get in their ear and beg them to get back on the field.
"I do want to rush back, but I know it's not good for me. I'm going to take my time. The trainers are going to make sure I do take my time and I'm healthy.''