Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens: As of right now, I’m playing on Thanksgiving

Anthony Hitchens expects to play in Thursday’s game.
Anthony Hitchens expects to play in Thursday’s game. jchristopher@star-telegram.com

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens expects to play in Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hitchens exited Sunday night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles with a pulled groin and had a noticeable limp leaving the locker room. But Hitchens got positive news on Monday morning when he was diagnosed with a slight strain in his groin.

“It’s so small you can’t even call it a strain,” Hitchens said. “It’s just pain tolerance.”

Because it’ll be managing pain, Hitchens feels he’ll be good to go. He has played through sprained ankles and doesn’t view it as being something that will keep him out.

“As of right now, I’m playing and looking forward to it,” Hitchens said.

Hitchens said his final decision will not be impacted by the status of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee. Lee missed Sunday’s game after re-aggravating a hamstring injury early on in the Atlanta Falcons contest earlier this month, and is not expected to play this week.

The Cowboys’ defense has struggled without Lee and Hitchens is the next-best option at weakside linebacker. Without Hitchens, the defense would be in even a more precarious spot.

“At the end of the day, I have to protect my body,” Hitchens said. “If I can’t go, I’m not hurting myself, I’m hurting the team too. If I’m out there playing at 50 percent, I can’t do my job.

“If I can go, I can go. If not, I can’t.”

Hitchens didn’t remember a specific play in which he injured his groin. He tried to play through it, but eventually was pulled out late in the second half. Veteran Justin Durant took over the weakside spot when Hitchens exited.

In six games, Hitchens has been credited with 41 tackles, including six for loss, two quarterback pressures and one passes defensed.

In other injury news, All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) was limited in Monday’s walkthrough-style practice. Smith didn’t practice all of last week in missing his second straight game, but could be healthy enough to go on Thanksgiving.

Kicker Dan Bailey (groin) was also limited as he is getting closer to returning. Other players limited included defensive linemen DeMarcus Lawrence (shoulder) and Maliek Collins (foot).

Safety Jeff Heath (concussion) and tight end Geoff Swaim (knee) were full participants. The only player who didn’t participate was Lee (hamstring).