OXNARD, Calif. – Tyrone Crawford couldn’t believe that just happened to him.
Really? On the first practice out here in Oxnard, Calif., where the excitement level was sky high, and someone from the stands would actually do that?
Crawford was just running through his drills when he felt someone throw a football into the back of his ankle.
“I heard it and felt it,” Crawford said. “And I looked down for the ball that hit me.”
Only there was no ball. What he heard and felt was simply his Achilles tendon popping. Crawford immediately went down and couldn’t put any pressure on it.
“That’s when I started putting it together,” he said. “At first, I thought it was someone from the crowd who threw a football at me. I was like, ‘what the heck just happened.’ I just tried to get back up but I fell right back down. And when (the trainers) came over, I knew it was pretty bad. That’s when I realized I just tore my Achilles.”
And that’s when frustration immediately overwhelmed the defensive end, who was considered by many as a rising star and a key member of the Cowboys’ new 4-3 scheme.
Crawford started pounding the ground with his fist. Practice continued around him, but he stayed on the ground, unable to put any power on his left foot. As the training staff called for the cart to pick him up and take him to the training table, Crawford buried his face in a towel to hide his pain, disappointment and frustration.
“I just couldn’t believe this happened on the first day,” Crawford said. “I had really high hopes for myself this year. I was so ready to go.”
Crawford, who will undergo an MRI to officially confirm the exact nature of the injury, is expected to fly back to Dallas in the next few days for surgery.
Crawford is the third Cowboys player in the last 12 months to suffer a ruptured Achilles, along with Caleb McSurdy and Barry Church. Both players are back on the field for the start of this year’s camp. And both of them came over to console Crawford after the injury.
“They just told me it’s not as bad as you think,” Crawford said. “They just tried to lift my spirits. They’ve been there. They know what I’m about to go through. Just really frustrating.”
Crawford said he was elated to hear the Cowboys were moving back to a 4-3 scheme, something he played in college at Boise State.
“Just being moved back to end, a place I’m really familiar with in college, I was just really excited,” Crawford. “I think I was doing well in the OTAs. I was really excited. But I guess everything happens for a reason. God has my back. I’ll be alright.
“I’m still a part of the team. But just not going to be there on the field. I learned a lot from DeMarcus Ware this offseason. I learned a lot from Hatcher, Ratliff this offseason. Now, I’m going to learn a lot from Church and Britt Brown and the rest of the medical staff. But I’m going to work hard. I’ll make it back.”