Anthony Spencer Injury: Updates on Cowboys DE's Recovery from Knee Surgery

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2014

USA Today

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 30 

John Machota of the Dallas Morning News provides an update on Anthony Spencer's injury:

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 28

Ramon Antonio Vargas of The Advocate reported on Anthony Spencer's status for Week 4:

Updates from Friday, Sept. 26

Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News updated Anthony Spencer's status for Week 4:

Updates from Thursday, Sept. 25

ESPN's Tim MacMahon has an update on Spencer's status:

Dave Moore of the Dallas Morning News has more from Spencer's point of view:

Updates from Wednesday, Sept. 24

Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News passed along an update on Anthony Spencer's recovery:

Updates from Monday, Sept. 22

Jeff Cavanaugh of 105.3 The Fan passed along comments from Stephen Jones on Anthony Spencer's status for Week 4:

Updates from Sunday, Sept. 21

The Dallas Cowboys reported on Anthony Spencer's status for the team's Week 3 matchup vs. St. Louis:

Updates from Friday, Sept. 19

Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News has an update on Spencer's status: 

Updates from Thursday, Sept. 18

Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News has an update on Spencer:

Anthony Spencer practiced Wednesday for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee last October. Spencer, who was wearing pads, did limited work, according to the team’s official injury report.

“It was good to see Spence out there,” head coach Jason Garrett said.

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 16

Jerry Jones spoke about Anthony Spencer's recovery (via Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News):

“We certainly were optimistic that he would get back sooner than the six weeks and we still feel that way,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM].


“We’re excited about him doing football this week,” Jerry Jones said. “What that means is pads. What that means is the kind of thing that we had hoped for and he has worked for. He’s been very impressive. He feels good, so we’ll start working him in football [activities].

“I don’t know that he will try to go here against St. Louis, but it’s going to be good to have that big guy out there. If he could come back and approach what he can do and has done, if he can come back and approach that, that would probably be about as significant of a thing for our defense that you could think about.”

Updates from Monday, Sept. 15

Jason Garrett updated Anthony Spencer's status on Monday (via Todd Archer of ESPN):

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Spencer will “in some form he’ll do some football,” this week practice. Spencer has not practiced in more than a year after playing in just one game with 34 snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. 

“He’s really worked hard and he looks good but he have to be mindful about where he’s coming from and just take it day by day and see how he handles the work,” Garrett said. 

Updates from Tuesday, Sept. 2

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett commented on Anthony Spencer's recovery from knee surgery via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas: 

It’s just a gradual process. He’s really done everything we’ve asked him to do from a movement standpoint in his workouts with the rehab guys. As these weeks go on, he’ll do more and more. We try to do football movements with him, we’ll ramp up football moves by himself, and we’ll slowly integrate him into practice.

Spencer provided an update of his own on the progress of his knee:

No swelling, no pain. It’s a little stiff in the morning. After I sit around after practice for a couple of hours, it’s a little stiff. Other than that, it’s fine. I feel good when I’m doing the stuff I’m doing out there. I’ve just got to get bodies in front of me.


Updates from Saturday, Aug. 30

Todd Archer of reports Anthony Spencer's roster status with the Cowboys:

Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 26

David Helman of has an update on Spencer's progress from owner Jerry Jones:

“I can assure you at this time, as close as we are to Week 1, he won’t be ready. But he will be on our active 53-man roster,” Jones said. “We wouldn’t be doing that if we weren’t planning on him being on the field immediately.”

Spencer missed 15 of 16 games with the knee injury in 2013, playing only limited snaps in the Week 2 loss to Kansas City. The Cowboys re-signed him to a team-friendly deal during free agency this past spring while he rehabbed his leg.

“He has progressed at a surprisingly fast pace, and I would say that, not Week 1, but there’s a possibility that any time after that he could feel good enough,” Jones said. “We feel good about his repairs. He’s got that microfracture, and we feel like that has completely grown in the way that that injury heals. It’s a question of him feeling good about his cuts.”

Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News passed along comments from Spencer on his recovery:

Updates from Monday, Aug. 18

Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News passed along comments from Jason Garrett on Anthony Spencer's recovery:

Updates from Tuesday, Aug. 12

Jerry Jones spoke about Anthony Spencer's recovery and the chances that he begins the season on the PUP list, per 105.3 The Fan (via Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News):

He’s getting there. He’s getting there at a faster pace than we thought. We’re hoping that when we get to our 53-man cut down that we’ll be dealing with that problem. The problem is: Do we keep him on the roster because he’s going to be ready to go in a game, or do we PUP him, which would mean we couldn’t use him for six games?

It’s looking like we’ll keep him on the roster.

Updates from Monday, Aug. 4

Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News provides a statement from Anthony Spencer discussing his injury status:

I feel positive about it but at the same time it’s still a possibility I could be on the PUP list. I am not really trying to push it too much. I am doing what I need to do… It’s getting better.

I would think we would soon start working against some other linemen, going through bags, doing individual drills. We’re getting close.

Sabin continued with a statement from Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett:

I know he is making progress,. I think he is in better shape. He’s moving around. You see him doing some running out on the field, getting in to some change-of-direction-type stuff. And it seems like he’s comfortable.

The biggest thing with him is day-by-day getting himself healthy. 

Updates from Monday, July 28

Anthony Spencer spoke about his injured knee and his recovery with Nick Eatman of

“I hope so. I hope to be back before the first game,” Spencer said. “I hope some time around there. It’s hard to say now. We’ve got time and not trying to rush things.”


Spencer said he is encouraged by the improvements he sees daily in his rehab work here in Oxnard.

“If I just keep working the way I’m working, I feel like we’ll be in a good place,” Spencer said. “Lifting heavier weights. I run little more. I just add a little more to my workout regime every day. It’s getting better.”


Updates from Friday, July 25

Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News has an update on Spencer's recovery:

Anthony Spencer was at Thursday’s afternoon practice, however, he wasn’t wearing his helmet. Spencer, who stood off to the side, was put on the Dallas Cowboys’ physically unable to perform list earlier in the day.

"We haven’t even really talked about preseason, so if I’m ready for it, I’ll be ready for it,” Spencer said. “We’re really only on a timetable with my body and where I am."

“I’ve been feeling pretty good.”

Spencer doesn’t know if he’ll be able to get any reps during training camp. If he remains on the PUP list, he’ll miss the first six games of the season.

“I’ve been getting stronger, getting my muscles stronger around the knee,” Spencer said. “It’s going pretty well. I haven’t had any setbacks, so it’s moving along.”

Updates from Thursday, June 12

Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram talked to Anthony Spencer about his recovery:

“I’m sure some other people have their doubts, but I don’t have any doubts, no," Spencer said Thursday.

Spencer, who played only 34 snaps last season before undergoing surgery, has started running. He said his two runs on the field over the last week have left him encouraged. He will continue the same rehab schedule for the next couple of weeks, and the plan then is for him to start some change of direction movement.

But he concedes he is a long way from getting back to practice.  

“It’s one thing to be able to run and then another whole thing to play football, so I’ve got a little ways to go,” Spencer, 30, said. “But it’s progress and that’s basically what I’ve been showing this whole time.” 

Updates from Tuesday, June 10

David Helman of talked to Anthony Spencer about his recovery from knee surgery and the progress he's making:

The latest step back from Spencer’s microfracture knee surgery is his return to the field for running – something he said he wasn’t able to do as recently as three weeks ago. 

“I almost shed a tear when I was out there running,” Spencer said Monday. 

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should expect to see the veteran defensive end in a helmet when the Cowboys report for mandatory minicamp next week. True to what the Cowboys have been projecting, Spencer said he still doesn’t have a definitive return date in mind. 

“Still no timetable, really. It’s feeling really good, though,” he said. “I’m able to do a little bit more weight and moving on the field a little bit more. It’s coming along slowly.”

Original Text

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer is progressing mostly as expected from his October microfracture surgery, but the team is apparently going to take no chances rushing him back.

Mike Fisher of Fox Sports Southwest reported Sunday that Spencer is expected to begin the 2014 NFL season on the physically unable to perform list:

Spencer, 30, played in just one game in 2013 before undergoing season-ending surgery. He was the Cowboys' franchise player after a breakout 2012 campaign in which he had a career-high 11 sacks and emerged as a go-to pass-rusher off the edge. The injury forced Spencer to return to Dallas on a modest one-year contract this April, with hopes of hitting the open market after a comeback campaign.

Microfracture surgery is a serious procedure in which holes are drilled into a patient's bone to help facilitate the repair of damaged cartilage. It has most notably been used on high-profile NBA players like Tracy McGrady, Chris Webber and Greg Oden, the latter of whom has had the operation on both knees.

Microfractures are less common in NFL players and are largely being phased out in the medical community, as noted by Sean Deveney of Sporting News. Initial expectations had Spencer returning to 100 percent health by January or February, but Fisher's report certainly contradicts that prognosis.

Evan Vucci/Associated Press

It should be noted that Fisher did not make a distinction between the regular-season and preseason PUP lists. If Spencer were placed on the regular-season list—a decision the Cowboys won't have to make for a while—NFL rules prohibit him from playing the first six games. Players can be taken off the preseason PUP list when healthy.

Spencer still walks with a noticeable limp and was on crutches for at least four months following his surgery, per Calvin Watkins of He indicated after re-signing with the Cowboys that he had a mental timetable of training camp but has since backtracked a bit.

“This injury it’s really uncommon, you rarely see guys coming back from it,” Spencer said, via Watkins. “So, I’m really not looking at any type of timetable. I’m just on my body schedule; where my body is, that’s where I am.”

The Cowboys could certainly use a fully healthy Spencer, as Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus helps highlight:

Salary-cap issues this offseason forced Dallas to release defensive stalwart DeMarcus Ware, who subsequently signed with the Denver Broncos. The Cowboys notably selected three defensive linemen to replace Ware (and possibly Spencer) in this month's draft. Spencer is part of the team's plans, but it's clear they had no interest in waiting around.

For now, though, it seems like they'll have to wait. Microfracture procedures are dangerous, their results not always successful and their recovery periods indeterminate. It was always a bit of wishful thinking to insinuate Spencer would be fully recovered by late winter, but the tea leaves are nonetheless not promising at the moment.

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