The Dallas Cowboys continue losing players at an alarming rate. Add to that list tight end Jason Witten and linebacker Caleb McSurdy.
It was disclosed today that Witten suffered a lacerated spleen during Monday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders. After the game Witten said he was fine and felt like he had only gotten the wind knocked out of him.
However, before practice on Wednesday morning head coach Jason Garrett revealed that his Pro Bowl tight end was getting shut down for the remainder of the pre-season. Witten, is one of Dallas’ most consistent offensive weapons and is 55 catches away from surpassing Hall of Famer and former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin as the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver.
Somewhere right now, I imagine Martellus Bennett is secretly smiling and probably thinking, “if only they had kept me around.” The Cowboys don’t have much proven depth at tight end, but I’m not too worried about back-up tight end John Phillips.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect Phillips to replace Witten’s production or importance in the offense, but we’ve seen that he can be an effective weapon in the passing game. I think I’d be more worried if it was Bennett, on whom we’d have to rely on.
During practice Wednesday McSurdy, the Cowboys’ 7th Round pick (222 overall), was lost for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. McSurdy wasn’t a standout during practice, but he was starting to find his groove and feel comfortable in Rob Ryan’s defense. He finished with four combined tackles against the Raiders Monday night.
Coach Garrett spoke of a high character, passionate, enthusiastic player when talking about his seventh round pick and called McSurdy one of those “right kind of guys.” Known for his heart and grit at the linebacker position while in school, McSurdy led the Montana Grizzlies in tackles in back to back years and finished with 130 tackles in 2011.
At this point odds are that McSurdy was expected to compete on special teams. One scout commented after the draft, that he expected McSurdy to lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles. Those expectations will have to wait until at least the 2013-2014 season for McSurdy, who will undergo season ending surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon.