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Without Phillips, Cowboys Need Tight Ends

The Cowboys have not made an official announcement, but indications late Sunday and this morning were that second-year tight end John Phillips indeed tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the 16-7 preseason win over the Bengals.

The club has been awaiting further test results today before making an official prognosis, so stay tuned. But it's clear that Phillips won't be back anytime in the immediate future.

However serious it is -- whether Phillips misses several weeks or the entire season -- the Cowboys must deal with an immediate issue: tight end depth.

They're down to three relatively healthy players: Jason Witten, Martellus Bennett and rookie free agent Scott Sicko. Bennett has returned from a sprained ankle that caused him to miss the first eight days of training camp, but he sat out the Bengals game as a precaution. Rookie free agent Kevin Brock left Canton, Ohio, in a walking boot for an ankle injury also sustained in the game.

And the Cowboys have no interest in playing Witten more than a series or two Thursday night against Oakland. Sicko was the lone active tight end in the second half against Cincinnati.

The Cowboys are discussing options at the position and likely will have to make an addition, even if Bennett's ankle keeps improving. It's not an easy fix; most fringe players are already in training camps across the league. 

One spot may open with receiver/returner Titus Ryan breaking his left thumb in the game, an injury that apparently will require surgery. And Brock's camp future may be in doubt, depending on the severity of his injury.

Another shallow position is cornerback given the team's preference to rest Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick, who has returned from May surgery to fix a fractured finger. Cletis Gordon, the leading candidate at fourth corner, strained his neck against the Bengals and will be re-evaluated today. And rookie free agent Bryan McCann took a vicious hit fielding a punt.

The Cowboys could have some moving parts, needing to get through the next four preseason games.

-*Rob Phillips
*@robphillips3 (Twitter)

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