ARLINGTON, Texas – For the time being, at least, the Cowboys feel as though they dodged a bullet.
It might be too soon to say for sure, especially for a player as important as Zack Martin. But after watching their All-Pro guard exit Saturday's game with a knee injury, there is at least cause for some optimism.
"We have examined him to the extent that you want to examine him right after the ball game," said Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "We're very positive about how it impacts the rest of camp – but we'll see more after we've had a chance to look at it."
Officially, the Cowboys played four quarters in a preseason loss to Cincinnati, falling by a score of 21-13. Practically speaking, though, the world seemed to stop turning inside AT&T Stadium with 13:27 to play in the second quarter, when Martin went to the ground clutching his leg.
On a routine outside run, Martin pulled to his right and was undercut by Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who dove low to avoid the block. Kirkpatrick's helmet seemed to make contact with Martin's knee, buckling him to the ground.
The Cowboys ultimately scored their only touchdown of the night on that possession – but it certainly seemed as if their main focus was the health of their four-time Pro Bowler.
"It was hard in that moment to think of all the possibilities that could be going on right now with such a great player and such a great guy – a guy that has put in so much work and done everything to make sure his game is exactly where it is," said Dak Prescott.
After a lengthy hiatus in the locker room, Martin returned to the Cowboys' sideline for a healthy chunk of the fourth quarter. Wearing workout gear and chatting with his fellow offensive linemen, Martin didn't seem to be overly bothered by the situation.
It'd be a mistake to make a medical judgment from that, though. Just last week, Washington running back Derrius Guice gave the all-clear after a preseason injury, only to learn the following day that he'd suffered a torn ACL. Tony Romo also famously claimed that he'd be fine after the preseason hit that broke his back in 2016.
That's not to say the same fate will befall Martin, but it does make sense that the injury needs to be further evaluated.
"The doctors were somewhat optimistic based on the initial observation, but we'll see more tomorrow," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
Sunday will bring an MRI, where the Cowboys will get a clearer picture of the situation. But in the meantime, there's reason to hope for good news.
"We've just got more to gain from, but from what we've seen, I'll sleep good tonight," Jones said.