By Bill Nichols / The Dallas Morning News -– The Cowboys sacrificed part of their future by trading two No. 1 draft picks so receiver Joey Galloway could supply quarterback Troy Aikman with a deep threat this season.
The addition of Galloway was deemed so important to Dallas' new offensive scheme that owner Jerry Jones signed him to a seven-year, $42.5 million contract.
But Galloway's first season with the Cowboys ended in his first game. He will be lost for the year because of a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his left knee suffered Sunday in a 41-14 loss to Philadelphia, Jones said Monday.
The Cowboys almost lost both of those key offensive players. Aikman sustained what Jones called a mild concussion and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Arizona.
Although, according to the Cowboys, it was the seventh concussion of Aikman's NFL career and his ninth overall, team doctors and Aikman's doctors are not worried about potential long-term effects of the injury, Jones said. He was examined Sunday night and will be monitored daily, Jones said.
If Aikman cannot play Sunday, Randall Cunningham probably will start. Cunningham, who sprained his right (throwing) thumb against the Eagles, said he would be fine. As insurance, the Cowboys activated quarterback Clint Stoerner from their practice squad. He took Galloway's spot on the 53-man roster.
Galloway's absence and Aikman's uncertainty this week complicate the Cowboys' plans of rebounding with their next two games on the road, including a Monday night visit to defending NFC East champion Washington on Sept. 18. Even with Galloway and Aikman, the Cowboys had big problems moving the ball against Philadelphia.
"Injuries are a part of our game, losing is a part of the game, and anybody who doesn't understand that you have to come back after having adverse times shouldn't be in the game of football," Jones said. "I don't know how to describe how disappointed I am to have made the commitment we made to bring Joey here and ... the type of impact we all felt he would have on this offense. It's going to be a very tough thing to handle."
Jones and coach Dave Campo defended the decision to have Galloway on the field in the waning moments of a lopsided game. They said it was important that the offense use the rest of the game to improve its timing and work on other problems.
Galloway was injured after tangling with a defender and landing awkwardly on the sidelines with about two minutes left. The Cowboys trailed by 35 points. He declined to comment after the game and was unavailable Monday.
"At that point in the ballgame, we were trying to get some things going offensively, trying to work some things," Campo said. "It just so happens that that's an unfortunate injury."
Dallas' full offense has not had much time together. All but three starters missed practices during training camp and the offense was on the field for only one minute, 46 seconds in the third quarter Sunday.
"I had no second thoughts about him being in there," Jones said. "We had Randall Cunningham in there, and they were getting good work done, and they were having some success at that particular time. Although the outcome of the game had been decided, I think that if you look from the standpoint of benefiting our team for the rest of the season, I think he should have been out there."
Aikman, 33, missed two games last season after sustaining two blows to the head in nine days. Concerned about the cumulative effects of those injuries, Aikman consulted two specialists outside the Cowboys organization. He could not be reached for comment Monday.
"I've been visiting with his doctors and our doctors all morning, and this injury is not as serious as what he incurred last year," Jones said. "If his symptoms should become acceptable here in the next couple of days, then the doctors have recommended that he can play. I'm not interested in any way of jeopardizing his long-term well-being. If you think I'm pushing him on behalf of winning a ballgame, the answer is no."
Last year, Aikman said he was told by his doctors that he had suffered a concussion when he took a head-to-head blow against Indianapolis on Oct. 31, although Cowboys officials maintained that he did not have a concussion. He was cleared to play against Minnesota on Nov. 8, despite suffering headaches four days after the Colts game, then was knocked out of the Vikings game on a hit by Jerry Ball.
Although Aikman's injury does not appear to be serious, teammates expressed concern that he had endured another hit to the head. Asked whether he would be shocked if Aikman retired, running back Emmitt Smith said, "Probably not."
"The player can assess best where he's at mentally, physically, and what he's going to do next," Smith said. "I think Troy is smart enough to know whether or not he can get back on the football field and perform at his best, and he's smart enough to know if he wants to take that risk. He needs some time away to think about it."
This is the second time that Galloway has torn an ACL. He was sidelined with the same injury in the second game of his sophomore year at Ohio State and missed the rest of the season.
With Galloway out, James McKnight and Wane McGarity will get more playing time, Campo said. McGarity, however, has been used primarily as a slot receiver, not as a wideout. Jason Tucker and Chris Brazzell also will be used.
"It really kind of involves packages," Campo said. "I think either McKnight or McGarity could step up and be a starter."
If Cunningham starts, the Cowboys will change their game plan slightly to fit his skills, Campo said. That would probably mean using more rollouts and deeper passes.
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