IRVING, Texas –Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will be a game-time decision for next week's NFL Kickoff game at New York, according to a source familiar with his progress.
Witten underwent testing on Tuesday to assess his internal healing. While not conclusive enough to say for sure he can play in an NFL game in a mere week's time, it was positive enough that there is a belief he could be ready to play against the defending-champion Giants. He will likely be listed as questionable going into the road trip.
That's significantly better than the initial prognosis, which suggested Witten could miss as much as four to six weeks, unless he needed surgery that would've ended his season. He learned last week that the surgery would not be necessary.
Witten was injured in the preseason opener, at Oakland on Aug. 13, when he took a particularly strong hit from Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain. He came out of the game, but returned for the next series and finished working with the first-team offense. Tests the next day revealed Witten's spleen had been lacerated.
He was required to remain idle for a period of seven to 10 days, and only began light on-field rehab work on Monday.
In Witten's absence, first-team tight end reps have been taken by fourth-year man John Phillips. The Cowboys may be motivated to go long at the position given the uncertainty of Witten's status. Rookies James Hanna and Andrew Szczerba will receive significant playing time in Wednesday's preseason finale against Miami.
Witten has missed only one game in his nine year career, as a rookie in 2003, after he fractured his jaw. He has played through numerous nicks, bumps and bruises over the course of his career, including broken ribs in a game at New York in 2008.