Dallas Cowboys owner and manager Jerry Jones made some news this morning. Speaking with 105.3 The Fan’s Sean & RJ, Jones said that Anthony Spencer would not be starting the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Instead the veteran defensive end that missed 15 games in 2013 with a knee injury will be starting the season on the 53 man roster.
“I can assure you at this time, as close as we are to Week 1, he won’t be ready. But he will be on our active 53-man roster,” Jones said. “We wouldn’t be doing that if we weren’t planning on him being on the field immediately.”
At the start of the offseason it was unknown if Spencer would even be able to play in 2014 at all. After sustaining a knee injury in week two against Kansas City, Spencer missed the rest of the season, and underwent micro-fracture surgery to repair articular cartilage damage in the injured knee back in October. Now it looks like he will only miss a few games.
“He has progressed at a surprisingly fast pace, and I would say that, not Week 1, but there’s a possibility that any time after that he could feel good enough,” Jones said. “We feel good about his repairs. He’s got that micro-fracture, and we feel like that has completely grown in the way that that injury heals. It’s a question of him feeling good about his cuts.”
This is great news for a team whose defensive line has yet to play up to its potential during the preseason due to injury. Spencer has worked out with the training staff during training camp and despite having yet to dawn on any pads, looks very good by most accounts.
The defensive line could sure use his help. Losing DeMarcus Lawrence for the first half of the season to a broken leg leaves Spencer as one of the few players on the Cowboys roster capable of rushing the passer from the right defensive end position.
“He’s in great shape.” Said Jones. “We certainly know that he could give us a lift earlier than we had planned.”
The Cowboys have a lot of players in similar situations, and it is unclear when they will be rejoining the team.
Rodger Goodell is expected to hand down his decision on Defensive Tack Josh Brent any day now too. Brent, who was released from jail back in June.
While not currently on the team it has widely been speculated that once his punishment has been handed down by the commissioner that the Cowboys will sign him to the roster. Jones made comment on him and the other players along the defensive front who may miss some time.
“We’ve got a guy like Josh Brent possibly out on the horizon – what’s his status, will he count or not count on the 53? We’ve talked about Terrell McClain, and McClain hasn’t had any practice time,” Jones said. “We’re counting on him, he’s going to be a player for us. We’ve got Lawrence, our draft pick, and we’ve got to make him available to us when he becomes available.”
“The point I’m getting is we have really as many as five players that aren’t immediately going to be on
the field with us at San Francisco, on our defensive front, that we’ve got to, by hook or crook, figure out ways for them to keep their eligibility so that we can use them early in the season. That’s going to be quite a juggling act.”
Amobi Okoye is another player in that mold. It still looks like he will be a candidate for the non-football injury (NFI) list while he recovers from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Those brains of those inflicted with the unusual disease experience inflammation brought on by antibodies interfering with cell communication which causes neuronal damage.
This autoimmune syndrome was first identified in 2007 and is potentially fatal and forced Doctors to put Okoye into a 145 day long medically induced coma.
Henry Melton, George Selvie and the aforementioned Terrell McClain are all dealing with injury but seem much more likely to be available for the season opener against the 49er’s September 7th than the rest.
The Cowboys have to hope that some of them will be available for the opener. Otherwise the team is going to be in for a long first couple of weeks. If they can find a way to be effective against the run while the line heals up they could have an effective unit on their hands, but it is going to be tough for a while. With so many other questions on defense its tough to say things will just work themselves out.
Like Jerry said, the team is going to have to get a bit lucky with how some of these players get designated and getting healthy at other positions so they can afford to carry the lineman that would be back sooner rather than later.
This news about Spencer is a step in the right direction. With just 12 days left until the the start of the regular season, things could definitely be looking a lot worse.