"if the MRIs were negative, this means there is no bone damage, no ligament, tendon or cartilage damage. The major structures are intact. A hyperextension in this case does not mean they're out 2-4 weeks. On the contrary, they could be playing this weekend.It will depend on swelling, which can be affected by ice, tight wraps, ultrasound and anti-inflammatories. How much discomfort do they have? How are they able to tolerate it? I imagine they're getting heavy treatment right now. They could both get up in the morning and feel good."
7:35 -- The latest from ESPN-Dallas' Bryan Broaddus echoes Mosley's source, claiming the MRI's were negative and both Jenkins and Smith could in fact play Sunday, depending on how they respond to treatment. Full report from the source can be heard here.
6:58 -- New blurb from Matt Mosley (again, check the box) whose source won't rule out both Jenkins and Smith playing on Sunday. It all hinges on their second examinations tomorrow morning.
5:54 PM -- Some updated information is now avaiable, via Bryan Broaddus' Twitter feed (see box). The skinny -- Jenkins and Smith hyperextended knees. MRIs were normal. Knees will be re-examined tomorrow. Does this mean they have a chance to play this week? Next week? In a month? Trying to get a doctor to parse this new information.
* * *
Reality shifts by the moment, but as of 4:15 Texas time, here is what we know:
-- CB Mike Jenkins injured his knee and had an MRI some time in the last couple of hours. No news has come forth. No descriptions of his demeanor post-injury, or of the play or drill in which he was injured. That can be interpreted as good news or bad news.
-- RT Tyron Smith suffered what is termed a ''hyperextened knee." He too was to have a knee scan. Again, no details. Was contact involved? Did he make a literal mis-step and hurt himself? Is the team optimistic or pessimistic based on the outcome.
Most importantly, what are the official, medically-assessed results?
What we do know is the relative level of preparation their replacements bring. At corner, Alan Ball now starts, should Jenkins miss the game. He's been better at cornerback during the preseason than he was at free safety last year, but that season of struggle won't give much comfort. He's not comparable to Jenkins, if Jenkins can regain his 2009 Pro Bowl level of play.
The situation seems more dire at tackle. Jermey Parnell has been a positive summer story. He's added sixteen pounds of muscle since the Cowboys claimed him off New Orlean's practice squad last fall. He was the first of the faster, more athletic offensive linemen the Cowboys have brought in. He can move, and he's got long arms and a heavy punch.
He's also raw. He worked exclusively at left tackle this summer and will be playing a new spot if he is indeed the starter. He got four quarters against Miami last Thursday and tired in the second half. He held up nicely the first 30 minutes, but was reaching and clutching in the fourth quarter. He drew one holding penalty and was lucky to avoid another.
I doubt any of the young linemen would look as lost and overmatched as Alex Barron did against Brian Orakpo in last year's opener. Still, that's a low bar. Barron's flailing and clutching was a big reason the Cowboys scored just seven points in that game.
Jason Garrett terms the openings ''opportunities'' for the backups. His optimism is admirable, and essential. What, after all, is the point of fatalism before the first kickoff? Still, one needs to be fully prepared to take advantage of an opportunity. I'm not certain that Parnell has has the time and the level of preparation to excel in this role.