IRVING, Texas – Anthony Spencer isn't going to be available for the season opener against San Francisco, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he will be on the active roster to start the season.
Speaking to 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning, Jones said Spencer's progress in his return from microfracture knee surgery has been impressive enough to merit that decision. The 2012 Pro Bowler won't be available to play the 49ers on Sept. 7, but Jones said he could be ready any time after that.
"I can assure you at this time, as close as we are to Week 1, he won't be ready. But he will be on our active 53-man roster," Jones said. "We wouldn't be doing that if we weren't planning on him being on the field immediately."
Spencer missed 15 of 16 games with the knee injury in 2013, playing only limited snaps in the Week 2 loss to Kansas City. The Cowboys re-signed him to a team-friendly deal during free agency this past spring while he rehabbed his leg.
"He has progressed at a surprisingly fast pace, and I would say that, not Week 1, but there's a possibility that any time after that he could feel good enough," Jones said. "We feel good about his repairs. He's got that microfracture, and we feel like that has completely grown in the way that that injury heals. It's a question of him feeling good about his cuts."
The Cowboys have worked Spencer out on his own with the training staff throughout the past month and Jones said he is in great shape, though he has yet to don any football equipment. The defensive line would certainly be bolstered by his return -- he's one of just two Pro Bowlers on the unit, along with Henry Melton. [embedded_ad]
"We certainly know that he could give us a lift earlier than we had planned," Jones said.
It's tricky enough to add Spencer to the active roster, despite him being unavailable for Week 1. But Jones said he won't be the only convalescing pass rusher on the active roster to open the season. The Cowboys have several other high-profile injuries, not to mention the still-unresolved issue of whether retired defensive tackle Josh Brent will return to the team.
"We've got a guy like Josh Brent possibly out on the horizon – what's his status, will he count or not count on the 53? We've talked about Terrell McClain, and McClain hasn't had any practice time," Jones said. "We're counting on him, he's going to be a player for us. We've got Lawrence, our draft pick, and we've got to make him available to us when he becomes available.
The point I'm getting is we have really as many as five players that aren't immediately going to be on the field with us at San Francisco, on our defensive front, that we've got to, by hook or crook, figure out ways for them to keep their eligibility so that we can use them early in the season. That's going to be quite a juggling act."