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MRI results are in for Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens: No surgery needed; may return sooner

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Encouraging news from the medical department for injured linebacker Anthony Hitchens.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

An initial knee scope on Monday showed that Anthony Hitchens had suffered a tibial plateau fracture of his knee in the game against the Raiders.

A subsequent MRI, the results of which became public today, confirmed the initial diagnosis, but also showed that Hitchens had suffered zero ligament damage, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports.

With the positive news, Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com suggests the Cowboys might not even put Hitchens on injured reserve, as had been widely speculated.

MRI results did not show any ligament damage, meaning it’s unlikely the team will place him on an eight-week IR list.

The initial diagnosis of a tibia plateau fracture and expected recovery of eight weeks hasn’t changed. As it stands, the Cowboys could be hopeful to get Hitchens back on the field even before the Oct. 15 bye in Week 6. That's a much better scenario than immediately following the Aug. 26 game when the Cowboys feared a possible season-ending ACL injury.

Stephen Jones echoes Eatman's take:

If Eatman and Jones are right, Hitchens could return as early as the Week 5 game against the Packers, effectively missing just four games.

Hitchens had been one of the highlights for the Cowboys in this year's training camp, with Todd Archer of ESPN even crowning him the best defensive player in camp.

Best player, defense: This is why his knee injury the other night was such a killer, but Anthony Hitchens was the best defender from the first day of camp through his last day of camp. He is too often overlooked by those outside of the organization. He makes plays. He is dependable. He works every day. The Cowboys will miss him. Other candidates included Byron Jones, Orlando Scandrick and Maliek Collins.

Fractures of the tibial plateau are sometimes accompanied by injuries to the ACL and MCL, so today's news is a big positive for Hitchens and Cowboys fans alike. Especially if he does end up returning earlier than initially anticipated.

[UPDATE: Todd Archer provides an update on the sequence of events]

To be clear, Anthony Hitchens had arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. It revealed the anterior cruciate ligament was intact and Stephen Jones said it is possible the linebacker could be back in fewer than eight weeks.