ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 18: Anthony Spencer #93 is congratulated by DeMarcus Ware #94 of the Dallas Cowboys after recovering a fumble against the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium on November 18, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Despite your gasps and the jaw you bruised on the top of your dress shoes this morning, the prospect of losing Anthony Spencer for the season is not a shock to the Cowboys.
That’s not to say, however, that it isn’t devastating news.
You can argue that Spencer was the Cowboys’ best defensive player last year when he justified owner Jerry Jones’ franchise tag with a career-high 11 sacks and his first trip to the Pro Bowl. On the list of players this team could least afford to lose, the defensive end has to be in the Top 10. Right? No way around it, hearing that Spencer will need microfracture surgery on his left knee and be out for the season is a huge blow to Monte Kiffin’s defense.
But all is not lost. There are options.
The Cowboys have known since Spencer’s initial injury early in training camp that this was possible. The obvious, smoothest move is to keep George Selvie at end opposite DeMarcus Ware. Book-ending tackles Jason Hatcher and Nick Hayden. Caesar Rayford will likely be moved from defensive tackle to end for some depth, and newcomer Edgar Jones will be given more opportunities. Jason Vega is a defensive end on Dallas’ practice squad and the Cowboys signed Drake Nevis today.
Though I don’t think this injury is as ominous as the loss of Sean Lee last year, it will force backups into starting roles.
Considering Spencer’s limited play, Jay Ratliff’s absence for three more games and Tyrone Crawford’s season-ending injury early in training camp, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has worked minor miracles so far this season. With Spencer kaput, the smoke ‘n mirrors must continue.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.