The Cowboys were already experiencing enough pain while watching Tony Romo and his fruitless efforts to remain stationary in the pocket for several nano seconds during their preseason opener Monday night. But that wasn’t literal pain, although the sieve quality of Dallas’ offensive line could soon lead to bones protruding from skin. Like, say, a punctured lung.
But now the pain from that pounding has taken a literal form, as tight end Jason Witten is reportedly set to miss significant time with a spleen injury.
Witten suffered the injury during the first team offense’s cameo appearance in the first quarter Monday night when he was hit by Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain. He missed a few plays, but later returned to catch a pass. He told anyone who wanted to listen that he was fine, at one point telling ESPN that taking that kind of a hit felt good early in the first game of a new season.
When contacted for a further response about his condition and how super awesome he’s feeling, Witten said only this…
Witten will likely miss the remainder of Dallas’ preseason games, which is bad, but maybe not nearly as bad as it sounds. Any key player who suffers an injury of even remote significance during training camp will be held out of the meaningless games of August, which are primarily used for experimentation and roster evaluation anyway.
No, what’s at least mildly scary is that Witten has internal bleeding, as was first reported by Dan Patrick, and that may cause him to miss a game once the scoreboard begins to matter in September, according to Todd Archer from ESPN Dallas.
The panic, of course, needs to be contained to include only moderate cold sweating and kitten punching. Yes, Witten is a vital target for Romo and is among the league’s elite TEs. Yes, he had 79 receptions for 942 yards last year, which put him third among tight ends in receiving yardage during what was a slight down year (he had his lowest per game yardage since 2006). Oh and yes, since a group of 12 year olds playing red rover could probably bust through the Cowboys’ O-line, every experienced blocker is vital, which includes Witten.
But it’s sounding like at worst this will be a one-game regular-season absence. One. Singular.
This isn’t a player who’s injury prone either, or familiar with the word “brittle.” Witten’s entering his 10th season, and if he does miss the Cowboys’ season opener on Sept. 5, it’ll be the first game he’s missed since his rookie season in 2003. That’s a long stretch of health for a very large man who consistently gets throttled over the middle.
What’s powered his health? Mostly sheer insanity, and Witten’s inner prehistoric caveman…
It hasn’t been determined yet if the injury will require surgery. In the short-term, Witten may have to push to be available for the season opener, especially with the Cowboys beginning their 2012 campaign a few days earlier than the rest of the league with their primetime game against the Giants.
But long-term he should be fine. Remember, football players aren’t humans, and they just exist in human bodies.
UPDATE: The first hurdle for Witten’s participation in the season opener has been cleared, as tests have shown that his spleen isn’t ruptured and he doesn’t need surgery, according to Albert Breer.