Sunday, August 23, 1998
Cowboys' Benson sidelined with knee injury
By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Knight Ridder Newspapers
IRVING, Texas - Any postgame euphoria from the Cowboys over
their first solid offensive performance of the preseason was
tempered yesterday when it was revealed that defensive tackle
Darren Benson was lost for the season with a knee injury.
Benson - who went down late in second half of Saturday's 22-14
loss to the St. Louis Rams, which was highlighted by an impressive
showing by the Cowboys first-team offense - was diagnosed with
sprained right knee after the game.
But a magnetic resonance imaging test detected a torn anterior
cruciate ligament. The fourth-year tackle is scheduled to have
season-ending surgery in a few weeks.
It is the third major knee injury of the preseason for the
Cowboys, who lost linebacker Broderick Thomas and cornerback
Wendell Davis to season-ending knee injuries during training
A subdued Cowboys coach Chan Gailey said the loss of Benson
was a major setback.
"The guy was playing really well," Gailey said.
"He worked himself into a great position to play a lot on
our football team. So it hurts a great deal."
Benson's injury leaves the Cowboys with just two healthy defensive
tackles in Antonio Anderson and Chad Hennings for Thursday's
final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
All-Pro defensive tackle Leon Lett, who has been out the past
two weeks with a sprained left knee, is expected back for the
season opener Sept. 6 against the Arizona Cardinals.
The Cowboys plan to use Anderson to backup at both tackle
spots when Lett comes back. Defensive ends Hurvin McCormack and
Michael Myers will also help out at tackle.
Making Benson's injury tough is that it came just as the Cowboys
were rounding out their roster for tomorrow's reduction to 60
players. Gailey, who said the Cowboys would have had more flexibility
if the injury had occurred during training camp, said the team
would not try to add a player to replace Benson.
While injury is bad for the Cowboys, it's worse for 6-foot-7,
308-pound Benson, who was finally looking like he was going to
live up to the enormous potential the Cowboys saw in him when
they drafted him in 1995 at age 20 after just two years of junior-college
football at Trinity Valley.
With no major-college football background, the youthful Benson
had trouble adjusting to the pro game. He drew attention in 1996
when he quit the team during spring minicamps because he wanted
to work in construction. The Cowboys talked him back to the team
for training camp, but he suffered another setback when he tore
the anterior and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee
and was lost for the 1996 season.
He battled back to make the team last season and thanks to
the maturing process was on the brink of being a solid contributor
this season as Hennings' primary backup.
"It's tougher on him than it is on us," Gailey said.
(c) 1998, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
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All content copyright 1998,
AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News
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