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Spencer’s knee still hurting, will play


– Nearly an entire year has passed since Anthony Spencer had microfracture surgery on his left knee, and as the end of preseason nears in Dallas, the Bishop Luers product’s knee is coming along well enough for him to start the season on the active roster.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday that Spencer, a 2012 Pro Bowl selection at defensive end after leading the Cowboys with 11 sacks and 91 tackles, wouldn’t be ready for the Sept. 7 opener at San Francisco but would avoid a six-week stay on the physically unable to perform list.

Now 30, Spencer, the 26th pick out of Purdue in the 2007 draft who is on a one-year, $3.5 million contract, hasn’t played since Week 2 of last season when he had two tackles in a loss at Kansas City. In 2013, he missed the season opener after having knee surgery, and several weeks after playing against the Chiefs, he was placed on injured reserve and had microfracture surgery last October.

Since then, he has been rehabbing by doing side work while his teammates go through full practices. And even though he hasn’t fully practiced in quite some time, it looks now as if he will be able to return early in the regular season.

“I’ve been running, I’ve been doing a little bit more cutting, just adding more reps and more to my workout and just seeing how my leg reacts to it has been going real well. I’m optimistic,” Spencer said.

Dallas opens the regular season Sept. 7 against San Francisco at AT&T Stadium and to say the Cowboys need the 6-foot-3, 262-pound Fort Wayne native back in the mix is an understatement. The Dallas defense is already reeling after losing perennial All-Pro end DeMarcus Ware and fellow end Jason Hatcher, who combined for half of the Cowboys’ 34 sacks in 2013.

That’s why they need a healthy Spencer, who has 32 1/2 sacks in 91 career games as a Cowboy.

Spencer admits he doesn’t have a definite timeframe or date for his return because if he’s learned anything during the past year, it’s how to be patient through this whole process.

“I’ve grown a lot more patient with it, the things I can do and the things I can’t do, pushing myself on the things I don’t think I can do and being able to do it,” he said. “It’s been a process. Just going through it and learning as we go.”