Cowboys' Anthony Hitchens has tibial plateau fracture, not torn ACL
Hichens is expected to be out at least eight weeks after the team feared he was lost for the year
The good news for the Cowboys? Starting linebacker Anthony Hitchens didn't tear his ACL on Saturday night against the Raiders, as the team had feared. The bad news? Hitchens suffered a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee and will need eight weeks to recover, according to ESPN's Todd Archer
The Dallas Cowboys defense is not off to a good start to the 2017 season, to say the least. Dallas lost several players from last year's unit during free agency (Barry Church, J.J. Wilcox, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Terrell McClain) and saw several players (David Irving, Damontre Moore, possibly Damien Wilson and Nolan Carroll) get suspended for various reasons throughout the offseason.
Then, in their penultimate preseason tuneup, Hitchens went down with what appeared to be a serious and possibly season-ending knee injury.
According to an initial report from NFL Network, the Cowboys believed Hitchens tore his ACL.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reserved judgment on what the injury is when asked about it after the game on Saturday night, but he did not sound like his usual optimistic self.
"I don't want to go there," Jones said. "All I know, though, is I don't like the way it sounds. They'll take a look at it again tomorrow. If it were going to put him down, it'd be an ACL tear. I'm Dr. Jones reserving opinion on this. I didn't see anything. They just told me they wanted to look at it tomorrow."
Even fellow starting linebacker Sean Lee seemed resigned to the fact that Hitchens may be out for quite a while.
"We'll rally around him, you know he's such an unbelievable football player" Lee said. "It's going to be a big loss if he is out for a certain period of time but we have guys in the room ready, prepared. ... We'll have to step up if that's the case. ... Hitch is one of the most underrated linebackers in the NFL."
Whatever the case with Hitchens, the Cowboys are not going to rush second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith into a larger role than they had originally planned. Stephen Jones, Jerry's son and the Cowboys' executive vice president and COO, confirmed that the plan for Smith will stay the same.
That means Justin Durant, who has spent three of the past four seasons working as a rotational linebacker for the Cowboys, will likely step in as the starter in the middle. With Wilson potentially facing suspension for his alleged assault earlier this offseason, the Cowboys' linebacker corps is thinning out pretty quickly. It would be a great boon for them if Smith could become a high-quality player, but he's not likely to be a major contributor in the early part of the season so they'll need Durant to step up.
Pick Six Newsletter
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news.
There was an error processing your subscription.
This friend was in the car with Jameis Winston on the night of his alleged incident
This is probably the best football-related gender reveal you'll ever see
The NFL is going to need some new refs
The Eagles gave out a Super Bowl ring to a former player who definitely deserved one
It sounds like Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby may have left a key detail out of his story
Dave Dameshek of NFL Media joins Will Brinson to break down the Steelers approach to 2018