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Witten suffered a partially lacerated spleen in the teams’ opening preseason game and hasn’t played since. Doctors are checking Witten’s blood work on a daily basis to measure how well the laceration of the spleen is healing.
Witten underwent another round of testing on Tuesday. Doctors can’t say that he’ll definitely be cleared in time for next Wednesday’s opener against the Giants, but the diagnosis was positive enough for a “questionable” tag. 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.
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.
Witten has missed only one game in his NFL career, due to a broken jaw, and the Cowboys are preparing backups John Phillips and rookie James Hanna to replace him against the Giants if he can’t play.
“His spleen is healing, it is getting better. His work on the field has become more extensive, he’s been running, he’s been catching balls. We’re hopeful that he can do something as the practice week starts on Saturday,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ll just continue to make that evaluation. He’s going to be evaluated by doctors for a while.”
Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said that Witten will undergo another exam early next week and that surgery hasn’t been ruled out yet.
Witten caught 79 passes for 942 yards and five touchdowns last year. The Cowboys were swept by the Giants in 2011, with Witten totaling 10 catches for 81 yards and no TDs.
Dallas is a 4-point WagerWeb.com underdog for the opener in New York.