Throughout the offseason, training camp, and even the first preseason game, the Dallas Cowboys fortunately avoided any significant injury blows. It appears that has come to an end.
Unfortunate news started swirling this morning that tight end James Hanna will undergo knee surgery to fix a lingering bone bruise. This most likely means that Hanna will be placed on PUP to start the season, but it is still unclear how deep of an issue this bone bruise is. This may be the pessimistic way of looking at it, but the Cowboys have gone down the bone bruise path before with Anthony Spencer. At around the same time three years ago, Anthony Spencer dealt with a bone bruise in his knee that eventually led to career-ending microfracture surgery. We can only hope the future does not hold the same outcome for Hanna, but with that being said, this is a serious injury that could have serious implications on the Cowboys moving forward.
With Gavin Escobar still recovering from his torn achilles, the news about James Hanna could mean that Geoff Swaim will take the backup tight end spot for the time being. Behind Swaim, the only other tight ends on the roster are rookies Austin Traylor and Rico Gathers. This could spell bad news for the Dallas offense considering the fact that Hanna was such an instrumental piece in their run game as an in-line blocker. The value for Hanna’s run blocking skills resulted in the Cowboys re-signing him to a three year deal in the offseason, but with this injury, the luxury they had with Hanna is now gone. Dallas may be forced to spread teams out more, similarly to what they did against Los Angeles with Dak Prescott, but with a team focused on running the ball, this is a significant blow.
Geoff Swaim and Gavin Escobar are both solid receiving threats at the position, but are still somewhat raw as in-line blockers. Rico Gathers is a tantalizing prospect given his basketball background, but at this point, it just does not seem he is ready for NFL reps quite yet. The last tight end on the roster is undrafted rookie Austin Traylor, who is a long shot to make the roster, but I would not count him out because his trademark coming out of Wisconsin was his ability to block.
James Hanna has been one of the unsung heroes of this offense for years as a run blocker, and fans may soon realize that as we progress through the season. There’s hope that the injury is not severe as it sounds, but if it leads to microfracture surgery just as Anthony Spencer’s bone bruise did, there is a big problem looming in Big D.