Dallas Cowboys: Could James Hanna Be the Silver Lining in Witten's Injury?
The excitement that surrounds a new season of football is for the opportunity to see how the fruits of the offseason labor payoff. For the Cowboys, one of those players will now get a prime time opportunity at the expense of a superstar. Unfortunately, Jason Witten is that superstar.
At the conclusion of the preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders, it appeared that Kyle Wilber was the only Cowboy to sustain any significant injury. But word out of Dallas was that Witten suffered a serious injury to his spleen and will miss substantial time.
So while you consider weighing the pros and cons of ramming your tongue in a car door, it does not appear that Witten will need surgery at the moment and could still be available for the season opener.
What does this mean for the Cowboys? With John Phillips still missing in action due to an injured ankle, the next man up is none other than sixth-round pick James Hanna.
Hanna took advantage of his chance in the preseason opener by displaying good hands and showing his ability to hit on special teams. He finished with two catches, but it wasn't a bad debut for a third-string tight end. But with Witten and Phillips injured, Hanna is now presented with an unbelievable opportunity to get as much work as possible over these next few crucial weeks.
His first chance will come this Saturday against the San Diego Chargers in a game he'll probably start. Hanna is not going to make people forget Witten, but the game plan for him is simple—understand your assignment, execute, make the play, and seize the opportunity. That is how roster spots are won and depth charts are climbed.
Not long ago, you would think that just maybe if Hanna showed enough ability, he could make the team and find a way to get worked into the offense. Maybe he could even be a candidate to make up for some of Laurent Robinson's production. That first obstacle was hurdled when Phillips injured his ankle and Hanna started seeing more reps.
Having Jason Witten injured is one of the more nightmarish scenarios for the Cowboys. But let's stay positive for a second. His injury appears to be manageable, John Phillips is coming back, and now the Cowboys could develop Hanna for a more immediate impact in this offense. It's even feasible that he could emerge as the primary backup once Witten returns.
If he's making plays, it will be hard to take him off the field.
Will he be the answer at tight end even if Witten's injury lingers into the regular season? That remains to be seen, but let's just see how this plays out in the remaining weeks of preseason. By allowing Hanna to thrive, the Cowboys could potentially develop an effective tight end and an efficient member of the offense.
The last thing the Cowboys needed right now was another injury to an offense that's trying to find its stride; it's just another obstacle this team needs to overcome. In fact, it's what all the great teams do and we see it every year. James Hanna could be the silver lining in Jason Witten's injury.
Right now, this sixth-round pick could be a potential steal.
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