IRVING, Texas – While Friday's focus was mainly on the near-50 players at the Cowboys' rookie minicamp, defensive end Anthony Spencer was one of the veterans at the facility after his rehab workout.
Although he said he was on schedule and optimistic about his recovery from microfracture surgery, he didn't give a specific timetable when he might return this season.
But later in the day, Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones was a little more detailed.
"We're eyes wide open on this - not going to be totally surprised if he starts the season on PUP," Jones said, referring to the Physically Unable to Perform list that keeps players out at least for the first six weeks of the regular season. "Anthony thinks he might beat that, and I hope he does. We came into this knowing that he could be a PUP guy, so it's not going to be an, 'Oh my God, he didn't make the first game.' We knew that that was a very real possibility."
Jones said the Cowboys are fully aware how tough the mircofracture injury is to recover from but are more than encouraged with Spencer's progress so far.
"There are guys that come back and guys that struggle," Jones said. "It's certainly not an impossibility. Sometimes it just takes longer than your typical ACL or something like that, and everybody's different and each one of them is different. Anthony wants to be here. We certainly hope he gets back, and if he does, we've got a heck of a player on our hands."
Spencer said he doesn't worry himself about the actual timetable of return. [embedded_ad]
"I'm just going day-to-day," he said Friday. "I'm not really thinking anywhere past today. I had a good workout today. I'll work on next week and try to build on that. I'm trying not to push it too much or try to go too far. It's a process. I'm learning what I can do and what I can't do. It's getting better."
Spencer, who signed a one-year earlier this month that will pay him around $3.5 million, is aware the Cowboys signed defensive end Jeremy Mincey and drafted DeMarcus Lawrence in the offseason as insurance policies, but said it doesn't provide extra motivation.
"Not really. This league is what it is," Spencer said. "You have to come in and prove yourself each year. Last year I didn't play so I have to be like a rookie again. I have to dig out my trench and find a way to get through this."
Last year, the Cowboys placed Jay Ratliff on PUP and eventually released him soon after he was eligible to be reinstated. In 2011, Bruce Carter began the season on PUP with a previous knee injury from college and immediately contributed in Week 7 of his rookie season.