IRVING, Texas -Tight end Jason Witten is listed as a full participant at practice, just one week after delivering one of the more unexpected and gritty performances in Cowboys history.
Witten returned earlier than anticipated from a spleen injury that had held him out since the first week of the preseason. Despite playing the majority of the opener and catching two passes for 10 yards, he never took a shot toward the abdomen from Giants defenders.
"I didn't take any hits there, so it wasn't what I would consider a normal game for me, like most are," Witten said. "I don't think it's going to be an achy situation. I'm still recovering, and it's a process. But I'm not going to allow that to be any setback for me."
He said he expects to play in every big game – including Sunday's against the Seahawks – and he felt comfortable enough to take the field last week with extra padding.
While he realized a tenacious effort could inspire others, Witten talked Wednesday about how he didn't play in the opener solely to motivate.
People talk about your performance as being inspirational. Do you look at it that way?
Witten: "This point in your career, you end the season the way we did last year and now you've got an opportunity to go play in that game, any competitor wants to be in that situation, go out there and help your team win a game. It wasn't anything about being inspirational or anything like that."
Can you see how it would be inspirational?
Witten: "Absolutely. I think there's been a mindset that's been around this team all training camp and offseason, not just with me, but with everybody, that's just taking advantage of opportunities, doing whatever it takes, not letting excuses get in the way of what you want to accomplish. It's not easy. Sometimes you're going to be in adverse situations. Obviously that was one for me. But I really wanted to play in that game."
What can't you do at this point?
Witten: "I feel good. Obviously, it's there. There's no questioning that. But I feel like the more and more I practice and get out there, I'll get back to my normal self this week."
Are you out of the woods, regarding danger to your body?
Witten: "I feel like I am. I guess you can never say never as far as always 100 percent. I think it's one of those deals where you don't know when those situations are going to come up. I've got padding there and I'm going to do those things. The good news is unlike an ankle or hamstring, something that can be lingering there for weeks, this is something that I feel good when I'm out there practicing, running doing all that stuff. I don't see any setbacks that will get in the way here."
Are you wearing extra padding?
Witten: "I just have a normal protection there. I think some of the guys wore it in the past. I'm not sure what it is. You have to ask the trainers. It's like an extra pad."
Can you explain the importance of backing up your first effort:
Witten: "Coach [Jason] Garrett's mentioned it every day this week. That's got to be the mindset. We expect to play in big games around here. Obviously, that was one last week. But that's not your season. That's one ballgame. This is going to be a tough environment going on the road."
How much does Garrett's message take hold around the team?
Witten: "Jason's been great for this team. Ultimately, until you win a championship or compete for championships, and we're a long way from that, the head coach probably doesn't get the recognition he deserves. He's changed the culture, not just with the players, but with the building. I think he's done a phenomenal job of sending that message, being honest, communicating. He's fair, and he lays it out there for you. Here's the keys to win. This is what winning football's about: competing. I can't say enough about him, how he's handled himself and the way he communicates with the team, not just offensively, but really with the entire group."