OXNARD, Calif. – While injuries have definitely piled up for the Cowboys here during their time in California, there haven't been too many major setbacks to this point.
But that might have changed here with the latest injury to the most unlikely of players.
Tight end Jason Witten potentially could be out for some time, maybe even the rest of the preseason and possibly into the regular season with an abdominal injury he suffered in the Oakland game Monday night. The injury is officially diagnosed as a lacerated spleen.
Coach Jason Garrett said Witten will likely be "idle" for about 7-10 days and he ruled him out of playing in both Saturday's game with the Chargers and the next week's game against St. Louis at Cowboys Stadium.
"It's a very serious injury and we're really taking this day-by-day," Garrett said. "He has to be very still and idle for the next week to 10 days. You won't see him out on the practice field. We have to make sure he heals as well as possible and as quickly as possible. Asking (Witten) to be still and idle is a hard thing. But he has to let time heal it."
Like with all key players, the Cowboys are solely focused on getting Witten ready for Sept. 5 opener against the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Injuries to the abdominal area can often be serious and sometimes lead to other complications if not properly treated. It appeared the injury occurred in the first quarter of Monday's 3-0 preseason win over Oakland. Witten caught a pass from Tony Romo for -2 yards and was belted by Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain. Immediately, Witten popped up and went to the sideline, and wasn't in the game for the next play, suggesting his night was over.
However, Witten did return to the game with the first-team offense for the next series and even caught an 8-yard pass. It was the final play of the game for both Witten and the majority of the first-team offense.
Witten is the elder statesmen of the team, entering his 10th pro season and having played in 143 games. He's only missed one, and that occurred his rookie season in 2003 when he suffered a broken jaw. Witten has played through broken ribs, concussions the previous week, high-ankle sprains and many other injuries along the way, making him one of the toughest players the Cowboys have ever had.
And he's the type of player the Cowboys can afford to be overly cautious with. As a veteran of the team and Jason Garrett's offense, Witten can be held out of all exhibition contests. His rapport with Romo and the offensive line likely won't be affected by a few weeks absence.
With Witten expected to be on the shelf for some time, the Cowboys had to make a move at tight end, signing first-year pro Harry Flaherty, who happens to be the nephew of both Jason Garrett and tight end coach John Garrett.