You can add Anthony Spencer to the list of Dallas Cowboy players who have sustained injuries early in training camp: Jay Ratliff, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Danny Coale, James Hanna and Tyrone Crawford. Spencer is gone for the season with a torn Achilles.
Spencer, coming off his sixth NFL season — a career year in which he tallied 11 sacks — sat out Monday’s walkthrough and did not participate in the afternoon practice after he aggravated a prior bone bruise in his knee during Saturday’s conditioning test.
In order to repair the knee, he could require surgery that would keep him sidelined for an additional two to three weeks.
Initially, Spencer sustained the injury in OTAs, but it returned on Saturday. And while a two-to-three-week recovery time — if surgery does indeed occur — isn’t the worst thing in the world, especially when you consider that it is late July, the hampered knee of Spencer is something the team could do without.
For a team that year in, year out deals with its fair share of ailing players — whether during training camp or the regular season — the injury is more bad news for the Cowboys, and something they simply cannot afford.
Josh Brent has retired to deal with his personal life, second-year end Crawford is out, and Ratliff is banged up with a mild hamstring strain and is currently on the physically unable to perform list and will undergo an MRI.
More so than any player along the defensive front not named DeMarcus Ware, Spencer is the most important piece. He is the only one who has been able to compliment Ware with the team’s pass rush — whether inconsistent or not — over the last few years, and the team cannot stand for him to be out any length of time during the regular season. One could also say though that while missing some preseason time, Spencer will miss out on acclimating himself to Monte Kiffin‘s new defensive scheme in a live-game situation.
On Monday, 25-year-old Cameron Sheffield and 24-year-old Monte Taylor were the second-team ends, while Kyle Wilber was the starter alongside Ware.
Sheffield and Taylor are unknowns just trying to make the team who were thrust into bigger roles, and Wilber missed most of his rookie season because of finger surgery. The Cowboys do have a proven defensive tackle in Jason Hatcher whom they could move outside to defensive end, however, he is tagged as the starter at tackle alongside Ratliff.
Spencer’s injury is no doubt bad news. For the sake of the team, he needs to be healthy.