The Dallas Cowboys training camp has begun with more of a “thud” than a “bang”. And that thud is the sound of player injuries that are piling up since camp started over the weekend. The latest causality is All-Pro linebacker now turned defensive end Anthony Spencer.
Spencer aggravated a bone bruise in his left knee during the conditioning test on Saturday. He said the knee has been an issue since May. It flared up enough over the weekend that Spencer was unable to complete Sunday’s practice.
Following an MRI, head coach Jason Garrett confirmed today that Spencer will be having surgery later this week. The Cowboys have estimated his recovery time to be between two to four weeks. They do not believe it will hold him out from the start of the regular season.
This is a critical off-season for the Cowboys, especially defensively. And missing arguably last season’s best defensive player will sting. New defensive coordinator and coaching legend Monte Kiffin is trying to install a new defensive scheme as well as convert the Cowboys defense to the 4-3. Spencer’s new role as a defensive end is critical to that change.
Considering the other injuries to the defensive line, this surgery throws a major monkey wrench into the Cowboys’ plans. On Sunday, Dallas lost second year defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford to a season-ending Achilles injury. And defensive tackle Jay Ratliff has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Spencer is playing on his second consecutive franchise tag. Could this knee injury be a reason why the Cowboys are reluctant to give him a long term deal? And how will this effect his status with the team in 2014?
Garrett’s philosophy concerning injuries has always been “next man up”. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many “next men” left on the defensive line. Expect the Cowboys to hit the free agency wire very soon.