<
>

Stephen Hodge out for the season

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys' 2009 draft class might go down as one of the worst in recent memory.

Stephen Hodge, a sixth-round pick from that class, who missed the 2009 season when he underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee, had the same procedure done on his right knee on Thursday.

The Cowboys and Hodge were hoping he would be able to do something this season, but the TCU product's knees haven't cooperated.

It's expected that Hodge will need another year away from football to rehab. This is a sad story for a good guy who is always playful with his teammates and reporters. He's always working out on the side with the rehab guys and still attends meetings and games.

"I'm really disappointed for [him]," coach Wade Phillips said. "He had the microfracture surgery and was out a long, long time. We saw a lot of good things in him, held him around in PUP and hoped he would come back and now he had the microfracture surgery on the other leg. Just tough, tough time for him injury-wise."

The Cowboys wanted Hodge to play special teams and possibly be a linebacker/safety in the dime package. It's never happened.

Despite the injury, there is some hope. Marc Colombo battled back from major knee surgery when he played for the Chicago Bears and missed a year of football while he recovered.

Phillips also had a player with the Buffalo Bills, John Holecek, who missed the 1996 season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery. Holeck returned and played six NFL seasons.

"Guys can come back," Phillips said. "The medical things they do now can get them back. So [Holecek] ended up having a productive career. It can happen but it's certainly unfortunate for a guy who hadn't played at all in the NFL."

The Cowboys' 2009 class saw injuries to Jason Williams, John Phillips, Brandon Williams, Robert Brewster, Stephen McGee and Hodge that cost them either the 2009 or 2010 seasons.

DeAngelo Smith, Mike Hamlin and Mike Mickens are no longer with the team. Victor Butler and David Buehler are currently on the active roster with Manuel Johnson on the practice squad.