ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Tight end Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against the Oakland Raiders at Cowboys Stadium on November 26, 2009 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The reports out of Valley Ranch this week--that Jason Witten was a game-time decision with a sore ankle, that there was a decent chance he wouldn't play, etc.--were almost enough to convince John Q. Cowboysfan that he really may miss a game for the first time since his rookie season in 2003, when he suffered a broken jaw.
We should have known better.
Witten not only played, but shined in Dallas's 24-7 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Thursday, catching five passes for 107 yards, second only to Miles Austin, who had seven for 145 and a touchdown. He did so after being made to run routes and prove his health under the watchful eye of discerning coaches and trainers in pre-game.
After passing that test, Witten quietly took to ensuring a long and forgettable Thanksgiving Day for the Raiders man-defense.
If the reader finds him- or herself in awe of the wonderfully durable, unbelievably tough (Witten played last season with a cracked rib) Jason Witten, they may take solace in that those in the Cowboys locker room have a hard time grasping the phenomenon of a tight end, themselves.
"[Witten]’s something else," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He told me early on Monday, 'I’m playing, I’m playing’. It was touch and go. It’s touch and go on a normal week, let alone a week when you have three days between the games. But he was adamant right from the start that he was playing.
"He circled around my office probably 20 times over the last three days, 'Coach, you know I’m playing.'"