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IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – On Thursday, Dez Bryant made his first appearance on the Cowboys practice field since undergoing surgery five-and-a-half weeks ago to repair a broken bone in right foot.

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“Yeah, I’m getting better,’’ the All-Pro receiver told me later. “If I’m back against New York, I’m back against New York. That’s the plan!’’

Bryant’s use of the word “plan’’ here requires clarification. He’s not saying the “plan’’ has him definitively participating in the Cowboys-at-Giants game on Oct. 24, following this weekend’s bye; he’s saying that all along, since Sept. 14th surgery after an injury sustained the day before in a Week 1 win over these same Giants, the target date has gone unchanged. … and that the “plan’’ is for him to be a) first declared fully healthy and then b) to play.

“If it’s the Giants, it’s the Giants,’’ he reiterated, making no promises … but clearly enthused about the possibilities.

His teammates feel the same way. Bryant wore a helmet and shoulder pads and shorts as he went through resistance work with trainer Britt Brown on the sideline during Thursday’s practice. He sprinted, cut, shuffled and backpedaled in the session, later telling me that it’s the first time he’s run free of the help of machinery (like the anti-gravity treadmill).

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“I’ve put weight on it (on that treadmill) but this was another step,’’ Dez said.

The Cowboys and Dez have always talked about this sort of recovery period for Bryant, and all involved promise to avoid rushing him back, even as he’d missed Dallas’ last four games — and just one win in those four. Bryant will need to practice before he plays, something that could occur next Wednesday when the club returns from its bye.

“He has made a lot of progress,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He is moving around. I think he feels good.”

Bryant told me he’ll work out again at Valley Ranch on Friday, go home to Lufkin, Texas for a family visit on Saturday, and then watch some NFL football on Sunday before resuming supervised rehab work at team headquarters on Monday.

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