Anthony Spencer played 34 plays against the Chiefs and was inactive a week later. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett conceded Spencer may have played too much against Kansas City, but he expects the defensive end to return to a full-time player before the end of the season.
"I think it’s realistic," Garrett said. "It’s a long season. Remember, he was hurt for a couple of games early last year. You just keep banging away and keep trying to get better each and every day and week by week, and hopefully he will be healthy and ready to roll."
Spencer had left knee surgery July 25, and the pain has not subsided. He said last week he will not need microfracture. He practiced twice the week of the Chiefs game, and the plan had been for him to play only on third downs, but Spencer said after the game that the third downs weren't coming "fast enough" for him. So he played more than expected, and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said Spencer had a "setback."
"In hindsight, you go back and try to evaluate it," Garrett said. "It doesn't seem like it was bothering him at the time. It's not like he got really bad afterward, but having said that, he hadn't practiced that much prior to the ball game in pads, so you go back and try to make an assessment. You cant go back eight days ago, and say, 'Hey, let's have him play 16 plays instead of 30.' It is what it is. We thought we were doing the right thing by him and our football team. it just didn't respond, so we will make our next-best decision."
Spencer missed two games last season with a shoulder injury. He still had a career-best 11 sacks and made 106 tackles.
-- Charean Willams