Cowboys’ Jason Witten set to become NFL’s iron man

Posted Friday, Dec. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher is the NFL’s current iron man, but he announced this week that he is “99 percent certain” he will retire at season’s end.

Fletcher’s departure would leave Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten as the NFL’s iron man for consecutive games played among position players. He has played in 169 regular-season games in a row.

“Obviously, anything labels you as just getting older, getting up there,” Witten said. “It is hard to play consistently and at a high level like he [Fletcher] has every week, week in and week out. I’ve been fortunate to be healthy, and that’s a big part of it. Obviously, London, that’s just unbelievable at that position to do it as long as he’s done it.”

Fletcher has played in 254 consecutive games, including 213 consecutive starts.

Witten has missed only one game in his career. He sat out the Arizona game in 2003 after breaking his jaw and undergoing surgery that required three plates. Witten has not missed a start since 2006.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has made 149 consecutive starts, the second-longest such active streak in the NFL behind Fletcher.

Carr will play

Cornerback Brandon Carr guarantees he will play Sunday, even though he has missed practice the past two days with an illness.

“I’ll be fine by Sunday,” Carr said Friday. “This isn’t going to keep me out.”

Carr watched practice Friday, too weak to participate. He said he has fever, but he is not vomiting. Carr is sleeping and hydrating, trying to get over it quickly.

Linebacker Sean Lee (neck) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring) hope to return next week. Lee said tests show he has made significant progress on tests and is further along this week than last. Claiborne said he has been running and is on schedule with his rehab.

The Cowboys have ruled Lee and receiver Dwayne Harris (hamstring) out of Sunday’s game, and they list Claiborne and linebacker Ernie Sims (groin) as doubtful.

Receiver Terrance Williams (hamstring) and defensive lineman Jarius Wynn (chest) are questionable after returning to practice Friday as limited participants.

Linebacker Bruce Carter (hamstring), defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck), defensive end George Selvie (back) and defensive end DeMarcus Ware (back) are probable after practicing in full Friday.

The bottom line

The Cowboys won three Super Bowls during Jerry Jones’ first seven years of ownership. They are 135-135 since the 1997 season.

Jones said winning is harder now.

Unfettered free agency came into the league in 1993 and changed the game.

“Bottom line is, I didn’t get into the NFL — a lot of people say I got in it to coach, and I say that with a wink — the bottom line is that winning has always been everything,” Jones said on his weekly radio show on KRLD-FM.

“The first night I got a chance to talk about being the new owner of the Cowboys, I said, ‘We’ve got to win, winning is the name of the game.’ That’s really what it’s all about at the end of the day, winning the football game. It never occurred to me that we would have the challenges that we have, winning the football games. I didn’t anticipate this league that we’re in. I’m not critical of it, but boy, is it a balanced league.

“When you’re sitting here seeing the teams that are about where we are at 50/50 in that range, and you see the teams that right today could easily be the world champions that have records like that, then you realize how competitive it is.”

Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean

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