The Dallas Cowboys are about to give sixth-round draft pick James Hanna a lot more work. Cowboys starting tight end Jason Witten will miss the rest of the preseason after injuring his spleen during Dallas’ 3-0 preseason win over the Oakland Raiders. Witten took a blind shot to the abdomen from Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain, which resulted in internal bleeding. Although it’s been reported that surgery isn’t necessary right now, it hasn’t been ruled out by the Cowboys’ training staff.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game he “held his breath” when the hit happened, but Witten returned to the field for more action before taking to the sidelines with the rest of the Dallas starters. Witten is the definition of a tough football player, but the Cowboys had their share of scares with hits like this last season when quarterback Tony Romo broke a rib and suffered a punctured lung. Romo didn’t miss any games, but that was the regular season. These are just exhibitions, so Witten will wisely be shut down for the remainder of the preseason.
That means the Cowboys will get a better look at two rookie tight ends trying to make the regular season active roster. Hanna and fellow rookie Andrew Szczerba are vying for the third spot on the Dallas depth chart behind Witten and second-stringer John Phillips, who missed the Raiders game with a sprained ankle. Hanna caught two passes for 15 yards against Oakland while Szczerba hauled in one 20-yard reception. Both players will see even more action against the San Diego Chargers in Week 2 of the preseason with both Witten and Phillips on the sideline.