IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys defensive end Anthony Spencer might need microfracture surgery on his left knee and could miss the rest of the season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones raised those possibilities on his radio show Tuesday, calling Spencer's situation "a real setback."
Spencer, who has the franchise tag for the second straight year and is on a one-year, $10.6 million deal, originally injured the knee in offseason workouts. It was aggravated during a conditioning test the day before training camp.
The 29-year-old Spencer had arthroscopic surgery on July 25 and missed the preseason and the opener against the Giants. He returned and played more than half the game in Week 2 against Kansas City before he was sidelined again.
"Here's a case of a guy, you almost have to tie him up to get him off the field," Jones said on his radio show. "He was so diligent in his rehab. The individual that I have the most empathy for is Spencer because of the type of person he is."
Microfracture surgery is a procedure to repair cartilage that provides cushion for bones in knee joints. The recovery time is usually at least four months but can be career-threatening for pro athletes.
Spencer has described his injury as a bone bruise. He had just two days of limited participation in practice before playing 34 snaps against the Chiefs. Going into the game, he didn't think he would play more than a dozen or so, but he based that more on conditioning than the status of his knee.
"It didn't seem like it was bothering him at the time," coach Jason Garrett said Monday. "You can't go back eight days ago and say, 'Hey let's have him make 16 plays instead of 30. We thought we were doing the right thing by him and our football team."
Spencer had the best season of his seven-year career playing under the franchise tag last year. He was the leading tackler and had career highs of 106 tackles and 11 sacks.
Journeyman George Selvie, who signed several days into camp after it was determined Spencer needed surgery, has been a strong replacement and complement to standout end DeMarcus Ware. Selvie has two sacks and five quarterback pressures.