Marcus Spears, Alex Barron hurt

SAN ANTONIO -- The Cowboys' last two-a-day practice ended with a starter and a prominent backup riding in the back of a golf cart together.

Starting defensive end Marcus Spears suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee with about 20 minutes left in Thursday's practice. Spears is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks and his status for the season opener against Washington on Sept. 12 is in question.

"I'm good everybody," Spears wrote on Twitter on Thursday night. "Don't be sad for me I'm coming back better and stronger minor setback for a major comeback! I'm in Gods hands."

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.

"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."

Jason Hatcher, who is playing with a hyperextended elbow, is likely to move into the starting lineup.

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

Meanwhile, swing tackle Alex Barron sustained a dislocated left pinky finger at the end of practice. Barron is questionable for the Cowboys' first preseason game Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals in Canton, Ohio.

Spears went down after a block and was slow to get up. He limped to the side where he was looked at by trainers Jim Maurer and Britt Brown. Coach Wade Phillips and fellow nose tackle Jay Ratliff also spoke with Spears.

Currently the Cowboys have Montrae Holland (hamstring), Dez Bryant (ankle), Pat Watkins (knee), Stephen Hodge (knee) and Sean Lissemore (groin) dealing with injury problems.

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.