Cowboys DE Marcus Spears injures left knee, out for camp and maybe start of regular season

Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears will miss the rest of training camp and possibly the start of the regular season with a sprained left knee.

Spears is expected to be out four to six weeks after getting hurt late in Thursday's second practice. Since the slight ligament tear won't require surgery, there is a chance Spears could be back for the Sept. 12 season opener at Washington.

"If Marcus gets well, which we expect him to ... He's played for us, he knows what to do," coach Wade Phillips said after Friday's practice. "He's had a good training camp so it shouldn't be any problem once he gets well for him to come in to play."

Spears hasn't missed a game in five seasons since he was a first-round pick in 2005. He was selected 20th overall, nine picks after Dallas got DeMarcus Ware.

Spears' replacement is Jason Hatcher, who has been hampered in camp by a hyperextended elbow.

"Jason Hatcher needs to play anyway, so it's a good opportunity for him," Phillips said.

On his Twitter account Thursday night, Spears described the injury as a "minor setback."