Dez Bryant's hand injury comes at a bad time for the Cowboys, who are trying to make a playoff push.
It comes at a worse time for Bryant.
After two-and-a-half seasons of inconsistent production on the field, and unflattering headlines off it, Bryant had finally shown signs of maturity as a player and person.
Now comes news that Bryant possibly fractured the index finger on his left hand. Reports from Valley Ranch indicate that the injury could require surgery, which would cause Bryant to miss the final three games of the season.
Bryant went to a hand specialist Monday afternoon in hopes of finding a diagnosis that would allow him to keep playing.
Results have yet to be announced, but if Bryant can't play it would be another blow to the Cowboys' playoff chances. The Cowboys are 7-6 and tied for second place in the NFC East behind the 8-5 Giants.
"We're going to do everything we can to give him a chance to play," head coach Jason Garrett said. "At the same time, it's a medical decision as well that we have to factor into this thing."
Bryant injured the hand catching a pass with about 9:47 left in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 20-19 win at Cincinnati. After being tackled by former Cowboy Adam Jones, Bryant came up shaking his hand and holding the index finger.
He did not land on his left hand, which cradled the football, but Jones' hand appeared to make contact with Bryant's as he came up to make the tackle.
Bryant was able to finish the game with the injury and caught a 27-yard touchdown pass with 6:35 left. He also caught another pass on the Cowboys' final, game-winning drive.
If it were up to Bryant, there's no doubt he would play this week against the Steelers. Even if it meant risking further injury to the hand.
Hands are pretty important to receivers, as you might imagine, but contributing to the team is also pretty important to Bryant.
"Dez is very passionate about playing. Anybody who's been around him knows that," Garrett said. "He loves to play."
So far, this has been a breakout year for Byant with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns. And he's really caught fire in the second half of the season.
He's scored a touchdown in each of his last five games and has been on a tear since a 12-catch, 145-yard performance against Cleveland four games ago.
Bryant has 30 catches for 438 yards and six touchdowns in his last four games. Having been removed from punt return duties at mid-season, Bryant is now fully focused on receiving.
He finally seems to be on the same page with quarterback Tony Romo, but he also seems to have sorted out the pages of his personal life.
We haven't heard of any off-field incidents involving Bryant since a domestic violence charge involving his mother last summer. That brush with the legal system, followed by his agreeing to a set of behavioral rules established by the Cowboys, has apparently brought peace to Bryant's non-football life.
Bryant acknowledged recently that finding a sense of calm off the field has helped him be more productive on it.
If he gets good news from the hand specialist, he can continue to produce like one of the best receivers in the league.
Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire