The veteran linebacker/defensive end from Purdue likely should not be playing football any more after he had microfracture surgery on his knee last season. Before the Cowboys' 38-17 win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night, the last time Spencer played was Sept. 15, 2013 in Kansas City.
"It feels good to be back out there," Spencer said on Sunday night. "It was a lot of hard work to get out there and it feels good. Now I have to put the work on the football field."
If, somehow, Spencer is able to return to being close to the player he was in 2011 and 2012 when he was a reliable defender against the run and good in pass situations, this would be a major coup for the Cowboys. They were hopeful he may be able to return from his knee surgery, but now that he is actually playing their expectations change. Maybe they shouldn't, but they will.
Spencer, 30, will never be a three-down player again but he can be a part of a rotation that makes plays, and then gets a rest.
"I don't think I played over 25 snaps," Spencer said. "I didn't get too gassed out there. I got action."
That Spencer played at all is a major achievement. Now we will see if he can do anything from here.
OTHER WEEK 4 OBSERVATIONS
9/14/14: 29 passes at Titans. Cowboys win 26-10
9/21/14: 23 passes at Rams. Cowboys win 34-31
9/28/14: 29 passes vs. Saints. Cowboys win 38-17
The last time Romo had three consecutive games attempting 30 or fewer passes was 2006, when he was made the starter on Oct. 29.
11/12/06: 20 passes at Arizona. Cowboys win, 27-10
11/19/06: 23 passes v. Colts. Cowboys win, 21-14
11/23/06: 29 passes v. Bucs. Cowboys win, 38-10
In his first game since his demotion, Morris Claiborne had to leave the game with what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called a tear. That means more Sterling Moore. Good. Moore keeps making plays. He had three tackles and two passes defended against the Saints, including an impressive stop of Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.
Moore is an undrafted player out of SMU, but he makes plays. He had a fourth quarter fumble recovery that he likely would have returned for a touchdown had the officials not blown the call.
Cornerback Orlando Scandrick plays with an edge and is clearly better than every other corner. He had seven tackles against the Saints with two passes defended. The Cowboys had no choice but to bench Claiborne for Scandrick and it paid off.
One Cowboys insider said he thought the team would win once he saw that linebacker Rolando McClain (groin) would play. McClain was credited with two tackles, but he is active and visible. He told me he did not feel as good as he did against the Titans two weeks ago.
I asked him if he was aware that his team needs him.
"Yeah," he said. "And I need them."
Before he suffered a quad injury, linebacker Bruce Carter was again having another impactful game. He had six tackles with a pair of passes defended, including one tipped pass that Justin Durant intercepted off of Drew Brees.
Saints coach Sean Payton blew it in the fourth quarter when he had his punter attempt a pass on a trick fourth down play when his team trailed by two touchdowns but had some momentum. Payton has a Hall of Fame quarterback to throw it, but preferred his punter throwing a pass over Drew Brees.
Up Next: The Houston Texans are frauds, but somehow a team with Ryan Fitzpatrick as its starting quarterback is 3-1. They will be 3-2 next week after the visit AT&T Stadium to play the Cowboys in the battle for Rick Perry's Cup.
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