OXNARD, Calif. — Anthony Spencer is ready — ready to get surgery over with, ready to get back at it.The starting defensive end will return to Dallas-Fort Worth to undergo surgery on his left knee Thursday. He expects to miss three weeks.“I’m ready just to get it fixed and move on and start healing,” Spencer said Tuesday.Spencer has been bothered by the knee since the team’s organized team activities in May and sat out the minicamp last month in hopes rest would heal it. But Spencer experienced more pain in his knee during the team’s conditioning test Saturday.A MRI test confirmed a bone bruise, and doctors have advised surgery.Spencer had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Aug. 20, 2008, and missed one regular-season game while rehabbing. He then injured his hamstring and missed three more games. But Spencer is more worried about missing practice time than game time this year.He vows to be back for the first game but wishes he had more time to prepare for the team’s transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3, prompting a move for him from outside linebacker to defensive end.“There’s only one way to get really in football shape, to become better at your craft and that’s just by doing it, so I definitely feel a little bit behind,” Spencer said. “I’m definitely going to be trying to get back as fast as I can.”Spencer is entering his seventh season. He had his best season in 2012, with 11 sacks and 26 quarterback pressures.The Cowboys used the franchise tag on him for a second consecutive season, guaranteeing him $10.6 million.“He’ll catch up quickly,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s a smart guy, and the work that he did get in the off-season was very productive for him. Again, it’s early. ... We just want to make sure we’re smart with these players, certainly the players who have been around, and we’re counting on him.”Camp bodyWith a string of injuries in the defensive line, the Cowboys do need a camp body to help get them through practice. Two of their top three defensive ends are out, with Tyrone Crawford (Achilles) lost for the year and Anthony Spencer (knee) requiring surgery, and they are without starting defensive tackle Jay Ratliff (hamstring).Defensive tackle Ikponmwosa Igbinosun was wearing a walking boot at practice Tuesday.The Cowboys had backup defensive tackle Ben Bass line up with the first team at end in Spencer’s place Tuesday.“We’ve got a lot of options,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We really do, relative to what we’ve got. But we’re evaluating what is there, because of our numbers. We’ve got to watch practicing [with so few linemen]. That would be more the incentive to get somebody in here — to practice — than it would be to think we’re bringing somebody in to help us.”Early test for BassBen Bass was an afterthought, even as a rookie free agent last year. He was getting ready to get on with his life when the phone rang a day after the draft with an invite to the Cowboys’ rookie minicamp.He won a contract, then a spot on the 53-player roster and finally, on Tuesday, a chance to practice with the first team in place of Anthony Spencer.“It’s cool that it’s happening,” Bass said. “It’s just not cool the way that it’s happened, the way people have to go down in order for me to be here. There’s other ways I would have rather earned it.”The former Texas A&M defensive lineman was moved from defensive tackle to defensive end for at least one day. He has spent most of his brief NFL career at tackle, and in fact, took only four snaps at end Monday.
Charean Williams 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean