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TE Phillips tears ACL in preseason opener, will miss season

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys are going to need to find some more tight ends -- and fast.

John Phillips, the No. 3 tight end last season as a rookie, is out for the season after tests Monday confirmed that he tore the ACL in his right knee in the preseason opener.

Both tight ends that came in after Phillips also got banged up. Kevin Brock has a sprained left ankle and Scott Sicko has a concussion.

"We've got to get some tight ends in here," coach Wade Phillips said. "We have several of them that can't play this week."

With the three youngsters getting hurt in Sunday night's 16-7 win over Cincinnati, the Cowboys have no healthy tight ends behind Pro Bowl starter Jason Witten. And they play their second game in five nights Thursday at home against Oakland.

Witten's primary backup, Martellus Bennett, was held out of the preseason opener to give him time to heal from the sprained ankle that forced him to miss the first week of training camp.

Asked if Bennett would play Thursday night, coach Phillips said, "I hope so. That was part of the plan, give him a few more days to get almost healthy."

John Phillips was the tight end last season behind Witten and Bennett. He had seven catches for the NFC East champions and the Cowboys had hoped to expand his role this season, including possibly using him in certain formations as a lead blocker out of the backfield.

Phillips will have surgery after the team returns from Oxnard, Calif., the team said. The Cowboys open the two-week West Coast portion of their training camp Saturday.

John Phillips had four catches for 60 yards against the Bengals, and apparently injured his knee when landing on one of those catches even though he stayed in the game for some time after that.

Coach Phillips revealed Sicko's concussion Monday, putting his availability for the next game in question.

Sicko is the undrafted rookie from New Hampshire who initially turned down offers from the Cowboys and other teams and said he was going to continue his education.

The injuries weren't limited to tight ends.

Alex Barron, the backup for both offensive tackles, sprained his left ankle and was wearing a protective boot Monday. The coach said the boot was precautionary and there was the "possibility he could play this week."

Kick returner Titus Ryan broke his left thumb Sunday night. Cornerback Cletis Gordon has a sore neck after taking a blow to the head on a punt return in the third quarter after Ryan got hurt.

Most of the starters were out of the game before getting a chance to get hurt.

Tony Romo and the No. 1 offense played only the opening series, going 63 yards in 14 plays for a field goal.

The only setback was having to settle for three points after having first-and-goal from the 2. Romo, who finished 5-of-10 passing for 59 yards, had three consecutive incompletions against the blitzing Bengals.

The Cowboys went 0-for-3 in the red zone overall, settling for three field goals from David Buehler. Their only touchdown came on rookie linebacker Brandon Sharpe's 6-yard interception return.

The Cowboys threw the ball to try to work on one of their problem spots from last season, which is why they threw the ball then instead of using bruising running back Marion Barber like they most likely would in a regular season game.

"It's a situation where we wanted to throw the ball more. We wanted to look at some things and that's the way you do it," coach Phillips said. "We run it three times, I think we would have scored. Our troubles look like to me, inside the red zone we need to be more proficient passing the ball. And run the ball some and we'll be fine. .. It's a little different in that area at this time of the year."

Notes: The Cowboys will work out Tuesday at Cowboys Stadium. The practice session is open to the public. ... Buehler shanked a 49-yard field goal attempt in the second half. The coach said there was bad protection on the play and the kick might have been blocked anyway.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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