Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders
It was late in the first quarter in the Raiders and Cowboys preseason opener Monday Night. The starters for both the Cowboys offense and the Raiders defense were on their last drive before conceding to the backups. But Tony Romo and company were already behind an offensive line made up of some backups.
The Cowboys had zero rushing yards and the only marginal success was through the air. But on the first play of this possession, Rom dropped back and immediately had Lamarr Houston chasing him down. Romo managed to slip out of Houston's grasp and see his tight end, Jason Witten open so, rather than losing a bunch of yards, he threw it to him.
Knowing that the play could only be a short relief valve throw, Rolando McClain came up and as soon as Witten caught the ball, he nailed him in the midsection with a shoulder pad and both player bounced in opposite directions. McClain got right back up but Witten was in much more pain and got up slower, grimacing in pain
Witten a suffered internal bleeding from a spleen injury. Luckily, according to Albert Breer of the NFL Network, there is not rupture to the spleen and he won't need surgery. Which makes it all the more impressive the Witten actually returned to the field for the next drive and even had a catch. But the injury will have him out the rest of the preseason and possibly the Cowboys regular season opener.
"When I held my breath was when I saw Witten take that lick and it was the same play Tony (Romo) got contorted," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said via ESPNDallas.com.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said today that Witten has a lacerated spleen and called the injury "very serious" and Witten must remain "still and idle" for the next 8-10 days.
Romo probably should have just thrown the ball at the feet of Witten incomplete. Nothing good could come from the completion. Witten caught it two yards into the backfield so there was still a loss on the play. Plus Romo was sacked on the very next play for a loss of 12 yards. So all told, the Cowboys lost 14 yards and their All Pro tight end on those two plays.