Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer is expected to play in the team’s Week 1 contest at home against the New York Giants on September 8. Spencer has been recovering from knee surgery that he had on July 25.
Although he could very well be ready to go in nine days’ time, Cowboy defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said, through ESPN Dallas, that even if he is healthy and ready to go, he won’t be playing all the defensive snaps.
For the Cowboys, a team that has had its share of injuries this summer including on the defensive line, it’s the best course of action to limit Spencer early and kind of ease him back into it.
The team has been riddled with injuries along the line this summer, with second-year end Tyrone Crawford out for the season with a torn Achilles, tackle Sean Lissemore out with a concussion sustained last night in the team’s final preseason contest against the Houston Texans — a 24-6 loss — and starting tackle Jay Ratliff out for the first six weeks after being placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
Simply put, they can’t afford any more injuries, and playing Spencer his regular amount of snaps off the bat wouldn’t be the best thing to do in the case that he re-injures his knee. Not to mention, the 29-year-old is coming off a career year, and the team needs him. Spencer last year posted a career best 11 sacks and 95 tackles. And he did most of his damage late in the season.
Playing in 14 games, Spencer was best in the latter half of those contests. 54 of his 95 tackles came between November 22 and December 30, as did 7.5 of his 11 sacks.
You could say he was a late bloomer last season, getting better as the year went on, much like fellow teammate Dez Bryant. Given that, there’s no reason to rush him back to action.
The NFL season is a marathon not a sprint, and if the Cowboys are to be contenders come December for a playoff berth, they will need Spencer healthy and productive.
With how thin the team is on the line, limiting his snaps may not yield the best results right away.
But the Cowboys would much rather him be at full go and full strength later in the season.
It’s why limiting him early is the best thing to do.
Jake Carapella is a Dallas Cowboys writer for RantSports. Follow him on twitter @JKCSports1.