Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will not play again this preseason while he recovers from a lacerated spleen and internal bleeding.
Witten was injured in Monday night’s game against the Oakland Raiders. Witten was examined Tuesday and had an MRI that showed no surgery was necessary immediately. Witten will be re-evaluated around Aug. 23 (Wednesday) and might undergo surgery if considerable improvement isn’t evident in that exam.
The injury might be serious enough to hold the veteran out until the Sept. 5 regular-season opener against the New York Giants.
The injury apparently occurred during the first quarter of the Cowboys’ 3-0 win when Witten caught a pass from Tony Romo that resulted in a 2-yard loss. Witten took a hard hit from Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain and went to the sideline.
However, he returned for the next series and had an 8-yard reception before the starters retired to the bench for the evening.
Witten has been the model of resiliency for the Cowboys, missing only one game in his 10-year career. That came in 2003 when he sustained a broken jaw. He has served as a security blanket in the offense since Tony Romo became starter. According to ESPN research, Romo has a 72.3 completion percentage on passes intended for Witten over the past three seasons.
With Witten out, fourth-year pro John Phillips figures more prominently. Rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba will get more opportunities in practice.