One might suppose that the most relevant idea here is who has any business whatsoever playing with a recently lacerated spleen.
For the Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Witten, one would have all the business in the world of playing through such an injury. His willingness has recently reached the point of signing a waiver in order to see action against the New York Giants in Week 1 of the NFL season (via ESPNDallas).
Either way, whether you fall in the camp of public consternation or inspired awe, Witten’s effectiveness has surely been reduced to a low level with that busted spleen.
The Cowboys’ leading pass-catcher in 2011 and Tony Romo’s favorite target is exactly that—the team’s No. 1 receiver and the quarterback’s most reliable option. In other words, Witten’s reduced effectiveness and/or absence from this matchup against the Giants will be a monumental loss.
The status of the receiving corps in Dallas is already a fairly tenuous one even with a fully healthy Witten. Dez Bryant was the Cowboys’ second-leading receiver last year, but is coming off a knee injury. The No. 2 man in Miles Austin is even more fragile, coming off a hamstring injury.
And 54-reception, 11-touchdown man Laurent Robinson is hundreds of miles away to the south as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Moreover, the tight ends below Witten on the depth chart won’t provide much relief, either. Odds are most people couldn’t even name his replacements.
(In case you were wondering, Martellus Bennett finds himself on the opposite sideline in tonight’s game.)
Who comes out with a victory in the first of two matchups?
If I’m the Giants, I double-team Bryant, stack more guys in the box until Austin’s hamstrings merit otherwise, and knock Witten down so hard in the early going that he’ll have second thoughts about coming back into the game.
Romo will certainly rely on his running backs to both combat the Giants’ ferocious pass rush and compensate for the hobbled receivers. The Cowboys’ 18th-ranked rushing attack with DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones isn’t exactly world-renowned, though. Their banged up offensive line further compounds the matter.
New York’s rushing defense isn’t really a head-turner either, but it will play at a higher level tonight due to the one-sided nature of Dallas’ offense.
The Cowboys will leave New York with one more loss than when they arrived. Romo and his team’s recent record against their division rivals will take yet another hit.
It might even be more painful than one to the spleen.
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