Witten has played 107 of a possible 108 games in his xxx-year NFL career, missing only one week during his rookie season after having surgery to put three plates in to protect a broken jaw. Witten has played through all sorts of injuries and once ran about 30 yards with the ball without his helmet, getting up from the tackle with his nose bloodied.
So Witten's availability isn't a matter of pain tolerance, it's about the chance of further damage. Phillips said Witten's status will be a game-time decision and probably would be even if the upcoming game was on Sunday.
"As far as I know, it's a situation where if he's not well enough, he could hurt it more," Phillips said. "That's a big concern."
Witten was hurt during the second quarter of the Cowboys' 7-6 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. He continued playing and came up with two catches on the winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Witten was held out of a light practice Monday and was limited Tuesday. If he can't go, second-year tight end Martellus Bennett would take Witten's place and rookie John Phillips likely would take up much of Bennett's workload. The third-stringer has played in every game this season.
"It's good that he has experience," Phillips said. "Martellus Bennett showed up in the last game and had some good plays and some good catches. I think he's gotten his confidence going."
Witten's 54 catches are easily the most on the team. His 481 yards are second-most.
Quarterback Tony Romo has never played without his good pal in the lineup, so it would be a big adjustment for him. Romo also is dealing with a sore back after accidentally being kneed during the first quarter Sunday.
"I think he's going to be fine," Phillips said of Romo. "His is a little different situation than Witten. It's not tissue-related or ligament-related. Whatever he has in his foot, Tony doesn't have in his back."
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press