SAN ANTONIO -- Almost a year ago, John Phillips tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Hall of Fame Game against Cincinnati.
Six months into his rehab, Phillips felt like he was back to full speed, but the lockout kept the Cowboys’ tight end from fully testing its strength. He took part in all of the player-run practices at Southlake in May, but it wasn’t until an individual drill against DeMarcus Ware when he fully felt recovered.
“Coming off knee surgery you can do so much rehab, but the fact is we play a physical sport and you need that to happen,” Phillips said. “Somebody pushing on you. Somebody twisting it, rolling up on it. Not that it’s not in your mind, but you’ve got to make yourself know it’s good to go.”
Phillips has not needed any extra rest and he has taken his normal allotment of snaps at tight end and some at fullback, like he did before he got hurt. His injury affected the offense because of his versatility to play all three tight end spots and fullback.
“I think the first thing you look for is what he looks like physically: Is he bending the knee? Does he have any limp? Those kinds of things, and it doesn’t appear like John does,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And then the next thing you look for is: Is he cutting it loose? Is he confident? Is he able to cut, really stick that foot in the ground and believe it’s going to be there for him? A lot of times bending is physical evidence of whether or not he has that confidence because when you play football you really have to let it go. Guys coming back from those things, regardless of how hard they’ve worked, it’s a process once they get back out on the field because it’s a very controlled environment when you’re rehabbing. You’re on a treadmill, you’re running straight, you’re running around the loop or something like that. On the football field, a lot of things happen very spontaneously and you’ve really got to feel good about the knee and you really can’t even think about the knee. If you get to that point, that’s when you’re back. John’s going through that process, but everything’s been really good so far.”