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Old Problem -- Better Timing

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The Cowboys are again staring at a tight end problem. Just two days after blocking TE Dan Campbell was lost for two weeks with appendicitis, TE Sean Ryan broke a foot and will be lost approximately six weeks. The team is hopeful he will return in time for the season opener against San Diego.

Though Campbell should return in time for the last three preseason games, the lack of depth at this key position is a major concern. Dallas likes to run two TE sets on offense and has no blocking TEs at the moment. Parcells noted the domino effect this would have in many situations, as the injuries also affect short yardage and goal line sets. The Cowboys plan to sign TE Mike Gomez as a "camp body."

Given the importance Dallas places on tight ends, do not be surprised if the team begins shopping for another blocker there. The one bright side is that Dallas has time to address the problem. Last year, Campbell and Ryan were injured in the regular season, leaving the team with limited options, since the NFL's trading deadline comes so early.

injury Update: The Cowboys' Blog's medical source offers some perspective on the tight end injuries. Our staff doctor -- and he's a real doctor, this isn't for fun -- tells me that Dan Campbell's timetable will likely be two to three weeks rather than the one to two reported. "If the team identified the appendicitis early, [doctors] could remove the appendix with only two to three small incisions made for a scope," he said. This cuts down on recovery time from the old procedure, which had to cut through abdominal muscle to reach the infection. "If this was a regular person, a conservative estimate would be four to six weeks. But with the degree of attention pro athletes get now, two weeks is possible."

He was not so sanguine about Sean Ryan. He estimates the fracture would be healed in four weeks, but that Ryan would have to regain a lot of lost conditioning and would not likely be in top shape for the start of the season.