Jason Witten – What has been a physically trying preseason for the Dallas Cowboys got a little better when team doctors informed tight end Jason Witten that he will not need season-ending surgery to repair a lacerated spleen, ESPN reported Wednesday.
The bleeding in Witten’s spleen has finally subsided, leading his doctors to believe that it will heal on its own.
Witten, who suffered the injury during an Aug. 13 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders, is still aiming to return in time for the Cowboys’ Sept. 5 regular-season opener against New York Giants, but it remains unclear whether he will be ready to play again so soon.
A more likely return could be in Week 2, when Dallas plays at Seattle.
The news will be welcomed by a team that has been devastated by injuries so far this preseason, particularly throughout its receiving corps. In addition to Witten, Dallas will likely be minus quarterback Tony Romo’s two other top threats in wide receivers Dez Bryant (knee) and Miles Austin (hamstring) until the start of the regular season.
Witten, however, is the glue that often keeps the offense together and his loss would have been a major blow to a Dallas team trying to shed its underachieving label of recent years. The nine-year veteran and seven-time Pro Bowl selection is Romo’s unquestioned go-to guy, hauling in 409 passes for 4,824 yards and 21 touchdowns since Romo took over as the starter in 2006.
Witten, who is also a key part of the Dallas ground game with his blocking on the edge, has missed just one game in his career because of a fractured jaw he suffered as a rookie in 2003. He’s played through a broken rib, as well as knee and ankle injuries.
Witten totaled 79 catches for 942 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, passing Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome as the tight end with the third-most receptions in NFL history.