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October 18, 2012

Spencer practicing, shoulder responding, but Cowboys not convinced he's ready

Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer is practicing, but the Cowboys aren’t convinced he’s ready for a game, coach Jason Garrett said.

“We’ve got to get to the point where you can say, ‘OK, now he can go play in an NFL game,’ ” Garrett said at his Thursday press conference at Valley Ranch. “He just hasn’t gotten there yet.”

Spencer was limited in practice on Wednesday. Garrett spoke before Thursday’s practice.

Last week, Spencer was also limited in the Wednesday practice but did not work on Thursday.

“We’re trying to move forward with him, and he has made progress,” Garrett said. “We just get to a point at some point in the week when we say is he capable of going or not. He did more yesterday, and we’re hopeful that as we go forward, he can do more and play in this ballgame. He’s a big part of our defense.”

Spencer was the Cowboys’ second-leading tackler before he got hurt. He did not play against Chicago or Baltimore.

Garrett said it’s not a question of whether Spencer’s pectoral injury is responding to treatment, it’s a matter of how close he is to being able to play.

“You try to do a lot of different things to gauge that level, whether it’s work in the weight room or work with the rehab guys,” Garrett said. “Again, it’s been promising. We’ve been optimistic at different points.”

Garrett said Spencer’s absence hasn’t necessarily meant extra attention for DeMarcus Ware on the other side. Garrett said Ware gets extra attention every week.

“Certainly, when you have more established players playing next to him, they get attention as well, so that certainly helps everybody across the board,” Garrett said. “But every week for a long, long time, he’s the guy that I think defenses circle, put a star around, put an arrow next to and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to handle this guy.’ ”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez

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