IRVING — Anthony Spencer’s surgically repaired left knee isn’t quite ready to go yet, but he is close enough that the Dallas Cowboys will keep him on the 53-player roster. The Cowboys’ defensive end hopes to be back on the practice field in the “next couple of weeks.”“He’s progressed at a surprisingly fast pace,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan. “I would say not Week 1, but there’s a possibility that any time after that he could feel good enough about his repairs. It’s a question of him feeling good about his cuts. He’s in great shape. We certainly know that he could give us a lift earlier than we had planned.”Spencer hasn’t had contact in 11 months, since he played 34 snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15, 2013. He had microfracture surgery soon after.“I’m just taking it day by day,” Spencer said Tuesday. “I do a lot of change of direction stuff and been doing a little bit of metabolics and stuff like that, a lot more football-related drills. That’s all going real well right now.”The Cowboys will move Spencer off the physically unable to perform list before Saturday afternoon because staying on PUP would force him to miss the first six games.“I’m happy about it,” Spencer said. “I’m still working to get back on the field. That’s the main goal. I think he did it so I’ll be able to get some practice when I’m ready.”Spencer, whose 32.5 career sacks are more than any other player on the team’s roster, can play either side of the defensive line. He could take over the right side, where DeMarcus Ware’s departure has left a huge hole.“I’ve been working both sides right now in the drills I’ve been doing,” Spencer said. “They both feel normal to me right now. I think I’ll be able to do both.”Matt Johnson waivedIn trimming their roster to 75, the Dallas Cowboys used the waived/injured designation on safety Matt Johnson and released quarterback Caleb Hanie.Johnson, a fourth-round pick in 2012, has never played in a regular-season NFL game. His chronic hamstring injuries once again derailed him in training camp this season. The Cowboys also waived/injured tight end Jordan Najvar, cornerback Justin Green, linebacker DeVonte Holloman and cornerback Johnny Thomas. The team waived wide receiver Chris Boyd, punter Tom Hornsey, long snapper Casey Kreiter, defensive end Adewale Ojomo, and guard Wayne Tribue.Additionally, the Cowboys placed defensive end Ben Gardner on season-ending injured reserve, and defensive tackle Amobi Okoye on the non-football illness list. The move means Okoye will miss at least half the season.Briefly• Quarterback Tony Romo returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Monday’s practice.• Defensive tackle Henry Melton and cornerback Morris Claiborne could play in Thursday’s preseason game because they have yet to take the field this season.• Coach Jason Garrett said he expects cornerback Orlando Scandrick to play Thursday. Scandrick is suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean