IRVING, Texas– No player wants to be a healthy scratch for an NFL game, and Marcus Spears was no exception last weekend.
But a positive that resulted from Spears' inactivity in Baltimore is the rest allowed him time to heal his injured knee, which flared up after the loss in Seattle.
"It was tough being inactive," Spears said, "but that's not in my hands. The thing about it, I don't know if it was planned this way, but through the grace of God, my knee feels 10 times better this week. So, that's how I'm going to look at it."
Head coach Jason Garrett said the loss of defensive lineman Sean Lissemore to a high ankle sprain should open the door for Spears' return this weekend against the Panthers. Spears, Lissemore, Jay Ratliff and Kenyon Coleman have been hurt at different times this year, but the depth on the defensive line has allowed the Cowboys to cope with the injuries.
"To be able to rotate six or seven defensive linemen is really, really important for us," Garrett said. "It keeps those guys fresh. Each of those guys has some versatility to them as well. They're good run defenders. They can affect the passer, and to have him back in that role will be really important for us."
Spears said he was ready to play last week, but he won't be discouraged by the fact he wasn't active. It's not often a healthy player is inactive for a game one year after signing a five-year contract extension.
"I've seen this situation a bunch of times where guys have been inactive and then ended up being key parts to what we're trying to do around here," Spears said. "That's the mentality that I keep."
The Cowboys will need healthy defensive linemen to deal with the speed and strength of versatile Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
"It actually gives them an extra man in the box when you have a quarterback like that, especially with what they run off the zone reads," Spears said. "So you just have to be real disciplined. You have to be in his way and be in the right spot. He's going to make some plays athletically, but being in the right place and knowing where he's going will help us out a lot."