Cowboys 2012 Season Rides on Jason Witten Sitting out Season Opener

Jonathan BargerContributor IAugust 31, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24:   Jason Witten #82 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball against Vontae Davis #21 of the Miami Dolphins during the Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

September 16, at Qwest Stadium, is the first time that Jason Witten should put on shoulder pads and a helmet and play in an NFL football game this year. On August 13, Witten suffered a slightly lacerated spleen as he was hammered by Oakland Raider linebacker, Rolando McClain, on a busted play.  As of right now, Jason Witten is a game time decision, and will likely visit his doctor on Monday for the final verdict (the team leaves for New Jersey on Tuesday). 

Cowboys Head Coach, Jason Garrett, has stated that the final decision will be made by the doctor, which will be difficult for Witten, who has been known for being abnormally tough. As a rookie, he played with a broken jaw that was wired shut. On Monday Night Football, November 4, 2007, Witten caught a pass in the middle of the field and was sandwiched between two Eagle tacklers, causing his helmet to go flying off. However, this didn't stop Witten as he thundered down field for an additional 29 yards before being tackled from behind. Witten was even seen on the sideline in 2010 against the Chicago Bears, arguing with the trainers after presenting with concussion-like symptoms, wanting to return to the game.

His exhibited toughness, however, might be his worst enemy come Wednesday night. If his doctor gives him medical clearance, Witten won't err on the side of caution. If the doc gives he and his spleen clearance, I wouldn't trust the mentally and physically tough Jason Witten to force himself to sit one round out. 

Even with a minor spleen injury, contact sports are not recommended until after six to eight weeks of healing time. And even during that time, pain killers are strongly discouraged. With the blunt trauma that lacerated his spleen happening on August 13, if Witten plays during the season opener on Wednesday night, he will be playing 23 days after the injury to his spleen. This is about half of the recommended healing time before full contact sports are permitted and puts Witten at high risk of re-injury.

The New York Giants have their injuries, too. Starting Defensive Tackle (and former Cowboy), Chris Canty, will be out for the first six weeks of the season as he was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Additionally, The New York Giant's 2011 first round pick, and slated starting corner back, Prince Amukamara, will be out for the season opener with an ankle sprain.

The loss of Witten, and the loss of a starting cornerback for the Giants will just about equal out. It should be commendable that Witten is doing everything he can to get back on the field as quick as possible to help his teammates, but the Cowboys need Witten 100 percent healthy. It would better benefit the Cowboys to have Witten sit out, at least one more week, so he can continue exposing poor underneath coverages for another 18 games this year.