News emerged from the Dallas Cowboys yesterday that veteran TE Jason Witten suffered a lacerated spleen in the team’s game against the Oakland Raiders. The verdict is still out as to whether or not Witten will require surgery at this point, but he will be absent from any of the Cowboys remaining preseason games. If Witten requires surgery, could the Dallas Cowboys be looking at possibly signing veteran TE Jeremy Shockey?
If, and I stress IF, Witten requires surgery, he could be lost for the season. I was at Raymond James Stadium during the third game of the 2006 regular season when Chris Simms suffered a ruptured spleen, an injury which required immediate surgery. Simms never returned to the playing field in 2006 and was never again able to regain his throwing motion.
The Cowboys are poised to move fourth-year tight end John Phillips into the starting lineup, but he has been dealing with an ankle injury. In his two seasons with the Cowboys, Phillips has only recorded 22 receptions. Other than Phillips, Dallas has three rookie prospects at the tight end position on the roster. This is not a prospect which favors the Dallas offense.
If Witten is going to miss an extended period of time due to his injury, Dallas should make a move to add a veteran tight end to the roster. Shockey might be that player. The free agent market this season was very thin at the position and Shockey is one of the few players remaining worthy of signing at this point.
The next 7-10 days will be key for the Cowboys, as they monitor the progress of Witten’s recovery. If surgery is required, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shockey join the Cowboys roster. Ironically, Dallas’ first game is against his former New York Giants team.